Mon Party Balks at Political Dialogue Meetings on Military's Terms

By The Irrawaddy 13 March 2018

YANGON — The New Mon State Party (NMSP) says it cancelled local political dialogue meetings for ethnic Mon over the weekend after the Myanmar army, or Tatmadaw, refused to allow more than 30 people join the events.

The party planned to host some 200 people at each of five meetings across Mon State on Saturday in preparation for a national-level political dialogue next month, all part of its preparations for the 21st Century Panglong Union Peace Conference scheduled for May in Naypyitaw. But is says the Tatmadaw’s Southeast Region Command, based in Mon State’s Moulmein Township, ordered it to restrict Saturday’s meetings to no more than 30 guests each.

“We were supposed to hold public meetings in five places. We planned to do it today. But we cancelled them,” NMSP central committee member Nai Win Hla told Mon news agency Men 3 on Saturday.

In recent months the Tatmadaw blocked efforts by the Restoration Council of Shan State to hold similar meetings for ethnic Shan as well.

The NMSP says it still plans to hold its national-level dialogue on April 6-9 in Mon State’s Ye Township and is asking the union government for permission to hold the smaller preliminary meetings with as many guests as it wants.

“The government side of the Peace Commission will help the NMSP do it,” party spokesman Nai Ong Ma-Nge told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

The NMSP signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the government and Tatmadaw in February and plans to join the 21st Century Panglong as a full member.