Myanmar’s Ruling NLD Holds Talks With Three Ethnic Parties in Shan State

By San Yamin Aung 14 January 2021

YANGON—A National League for Democracy (NLD) delegation, which is now in Shan State’s Taunggyi to hold talks with state-based ethnic parties, met with representatives of the Ta’ang National Party (TNP), Pa-o National Organization (PNO) and Kayan National Party (KNP) on Tuesday and Wednesday.

It is also scheduled to meet with the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) on Friday morning.

TNP secretary Mai Ohm Khaing, who attended the party’s meeting with the NLD delegation on Tuesday evening, said the talks focused on the role of the ethnic political parties in the formation of the new NLD-led government at both Union and state levels, peace building, the safe return and plans for internally displaced persons, forming a federal union, and state development, adding that it was a constructive discussion.

He welcomed the NLD’s move to work on forming a national unity government with ethnic parties in its new term, departing from the party’s approach in 2016. The NLD has been criticized for snubbing ethnic parties after its 2015 general election victory.

Since its second consecutive election landslide victory in November, the NLD has been sending a delegation to ethnic states to hold talks on forming a national unity government with ethnic political parties as a step towards establishing a federal union.

However, after the delegation’s first meeting with local ethnic parties in Kachin State, planned meetings with the Mon Unity Party (MUP) and later with the Kayah State Democratic Party (KySDP) were aborted, as the ruling party refused to budge on its insistence that the talks be held at its local offices in Mon and Kayah states—venues rejected as unacceptable by the MUP and KySDP.

TNP leaders meet with an NLD delegation on Tuesday. / National League for Democracy Shan State / Facebook

After Kayah State, the delegation comprising three of the party’s senior leaders—Magwe Region Chief Minister Dr. Aung Moe Nyo, Karen State Chief Minister Daw Nan Khin Htwe Myint, who is also a member of the party’s Ethnic Affairs Committee, and Ntung Hka Naw Sam, the chair of the committee—traveled to Shan state.

Dr. Myo Nyunt, the NLD’s spokesperson, told The Irrawaddy that the party hopes to meet with as many Shan State-based ethnic parties as possible to hear the wishes of ethnic parties for a new Union and also the formation of a new government and newly elected parliament.

Regarding the collapse of previous planned meetings in Mon and Kayah states, NLD spokesperson Dr. Myo Nyunt said the party invited the ethnic parties to its offices as the host of the meetings, and whether or not to accept the host’s invitation was the other parties’ choice.

TNP secretary Mai Ohm Khaing said the party had no disagreement with the NLD over the venue.

“We attended the meeting as a very first step for cooperation [with the NLD] and also to build good relations and trust. From my personal point of view, to meet is the most important thing. Only then can we talk about what we want and discuss how we should continue next time,” he said.

The party discussed ways to establish a communication channel between the NLD and ethnic parties in order to improve relations with home-grown ethnic parties and work effectively on ethnic affairs, he added.

A similar dispute over the venue occurred between the NLD and the SNLD this week, but the SNLD later agreed to meet at the NLD’s office on Friday morning after holding negotiations.

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