RANGOON — Representatives of eight non-state armed groups that signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in October met on Wednesday with Dr. Tin Myo Win, personal physician of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, to discuss reforming a body key to peace negotiations, the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC).
The ethnic representatives met Tin Myo Win at Green Hill Hotel in Rangoon, according to Saw Mya Yazar Lin, a central executive member of the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), an NCA signatory. The doctor has been tipped as the NLD government’s lead peace negotiator with ethnic armed groups, assuming the role taken by President’s Office Minister Aung Min in the previous military-backed government.
“We invited Dr. Tin Myo Win to talk and explained to him our current political stance. We talked about how to move forward peacefully, avoiding political deadlock in the future,” said the ALP’s Saw Mya Yazar Lin.
She said the eight NCA signatories discussed reforming the UPDJC, a 48-member body with equal representation of Burma Army officials, members of NCA signatory non-state armed groups and political parties. The UPDJC was previously chaired by Aung Min, and tasked with conducting the political dialogue between the government and ethnic armed organizations under the terms of the ceasefire signed on Oct. 15.
Saw Mya Yazar Lin stressed the necessity and importance of the UPDJC. “Since the new government has come into power, the JMC [Joint Monitoring Committee] has assumed control of political decision-making.” The participants proposed to Tin Myo Win that the UPDJC be given equal space, and emphasized the need to reform the UPDJC for future negotiations.
It is believed that the NCA signatories wish to keep the UPDJC so as to balance the influence of the JMC, in light of the prospect of a diminishing UPDJC role under the new government.
Like the UPDJC, the JMC includes NCA signatories in its membership. Both were formed under the previous government. The UPDJC is currently led by former Vice President Sai Mauk Kham, who is a member of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), and Saw Kwe Htoo Win, general secretary of the Karen National Union (KNU). The JMC, however, is led by Burma Army Lt-Gen Yar Pyaye and Saw Isaac Poe of the KNU.
Suu Kyi met with the JMC in Naypyidaw on April 27, and declared that she “[did] not want much time to pass before a 21st century Panglong-style conference is held.”
The ALP’s Saw Mya Yazar Lin said she considered a “21st century Panglong-style” style conference to be “in line with our goal.”
She said Tin Myo Win responded positively to the ethnic armed groups’ suggestions but could only report them to the state counselor, Suu Kyi, because he had not yet been given an official mandate.
“We also urged him to bring non-NCA signatory groups into the peace dialogue process. We have always strived to get the non-NCA signatories involved in political talks.”
The Irrawaddy reporter Nan Lwin Hnin Pwint contributed reporting.