Govt Proposes Locations for National-Level Political Dialogue

By Saw Yan Naing 13 December 2016

RANGOON — The Burmese government has proposed holding the first round of national-level political dialogue sessions in Karen State, Tenasserim Division and Naypyidaw.

According to ethnic armed organizations that have signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA), representatives of National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC)—a government peace negotiation body—have said that they are ready to hold a national-level political dialogue in these three locations.

“They [government officials] said they held discussions with regional governments to form committees in order to carry out the work to hold the dialogue. These are in Karen State, Tenasserim Division and Naypyidaw,” Salai Lian Hmung Sakhong, a vice president of the NCA signatory the Chin National Front, told journalists after a meeting with the NRPC in Rangoon.

In order to hold the national-level political dialogue, a nine-member committee comprised of representatives from the Burma Army, Parliament, ethnic armed organizations and political parties must be founded in each respective region to supervise the hosting of the dialogue sessions.

Salai Lian Hmung Sakhong said that a national-level political dialogue is supposed to be held in each of the territories of all eight NCA signatories and that the signatories are ready to cooperate and awaiting government approval.

“We asked them to give instructions to the respective states. We can form supervision committees in the concerned states in order to carry out the preparations once we get instructions from the government. We proposed our ideas and they accepted it. We will meet again to hear back from them,” he said.

Salai Lian Hmung Sakhong added that the NCA signatories have already submitted agendas on the political, economic, and social issues that they hope to discuss in the national-level political dialogue sessions as well as in an upcoming second Union Peace Conference, which is scheduled for February. However, discussion topics, as well as the time frame for the dialogue, will be finalized in a secretarial committee meeting on December 17.

In the Dec. 17 meeting, respective government and ethnic leaders also plan to discuss the formation of working committees in concerned states in order to organize the upcoming dialogue. Also scheduled for discussion is the opening of a joint office of the NRPC and Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee in Naypyidaw.

The eight NCA signatories include the Karen National Union (KNU), Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), Chin National Front (CNF), Pa-Oh People’s Liberation Organization (PNLO), Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF), Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA), and another Karen armed group, KNU/KNLA Peace Council.

The Irrawaddy reporter Kyaw Kha also contributed to this story.