CHIANG MAI, Thailand — The government’s Peace Commission on Monday urged the ethnic bloc of nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) non-signatories the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) to cooperate with the government to achieve peace in the country.
Peace Commission members and the UNFC’s delegation for political negotiation (DPN) met for informal talks in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand on Monday, with Peace Commission member U Aung Soe and DPN head Khu Oo Reh making opening remarks.
Monday’s meeting follows the sixth round of formal talks between the two parties in Yangon last month. Talks have been delayed due to the illness of Peace Commission chair Dr. Tin Myo Win and instability in Rakhine State since Aug. 25.
Khu Oo Reh said the UNFC had the same will to continue talks and understood the delay due to unavoidable causes.
Talks covered the DPN’s nine-point proposal to signing the NCA, the seventh round of formal talks, and the possibility of high-level meetings between the government and UNFC leaders.
“We have been thinking whether it would be smoother to have [high-level] negotiations through our senior leaders, or whether we should continue this current form of negotiation,” Khu Oo Reh said in his speech.
If the ethnic bloc participates in the upcoming third session of the 21st Century Panglong Union peace conference, U Aung Soe said in his speech, “then we could say that our political process is effective to some extent.”
The DPN did not join the last session of peace conference in May.
U Aung Soe said the government is collaborating with all relevant stakeholders, including the government, parliament, the Tatmadaw, ethnic armed organizations, and political parties, on the amendments of the political dialogue framework in order to convene the third session of the peace conference.
The government plans to hold the next session in November, though peace negotiators believe it will be delayed.
U Aung Soe said all parties need to try harder to make progress in the peace process as they have not seen any success even though the National League for Democracy (NLD) government has been in power for more than one and a half years.
He said the UNFC should consider collaborating with the civilian government to reach its four commitments to achieve peace, national reconciliation, and rule of law, and to amend the 2008 Constitution.
“Our government believes solving remaining problems would be easier if all of our ethnic groups stand together with us in peace building, along with the current political crisis [in Rakhine],” U Aung Soe added.
The government has not yet, however, entered into talks with the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee—an alliance of armed groups in northern Myanmar led by the United Wa State Army.
There will be a delay in UNFC members signing the NCA due to the seventh round of talks between DPN and the Peace Commission at the beginning of October, said DPN spokesperson Nai Aung Mange at a press conference following the meeting.
He reiterated that collaboration in the peace process would help in the amendment of the Constitution, which parliament also has a part to play in.
He referred to an understanding between the government and the military that a Union Accord agreed upon at the Union Peace Conference could invoke a new constitution, and encouraged everyone’s participation.
“We believe we would be able to implement the changes in the 2008 Constitution which is the most important task for our country in the short term, if we combine parliamentary politics and peace process,” he said.
“As you all know, we are not able to amend the Constitution without the Tatmadaw’s agreement. Thus, if we all try together, we soon will be able to build the democratic federal Union that we all aim for.”