Second Panglong Conference Scheduled for Later This Month

By Htet Naing Zaw 7 February 2017

NAYPYIDAW — The Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) set a date for the second Union Peace Conference during its meeting in Naypyidaw on Monday.

The second round of peace talks will begin on Feb. 28 in Naypyidaw and will include 700 participants, according to the framework for political dialogue, said deputy director general U Zaw Htay of the President’s Office.

The UPDJC (formed with representatives from government, Parliament, the Burma Army, registered political parties and eight non-state ethnic armed organizations) decided to try to persuade non-signatories of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) to sign before the set date in order to join the peace conference, U Zaw Htay said.

National-level political dialogues were held in Karen State and Tenasserim Division last month, and recommendations from the discussions will be submitted to the conference, said U Hla Maung Shwe, a secretarial member of the UPDJC.

The UPDJC also agreed to hold national-level political dialogues in three more locations—two in Shan State and one in Bago Division, plus a forum for civil society organizations (CSOs).

The Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO), an NCA signatory, will also lead dialogues to be held in Shan State’s Hopong in the second week of February, said U Hla Maung Shwe.

“All the papers discussed at the political dialogues will be put forward to our secretarial body. We have five work committees responsible for different topics, and each of them will sort out the three most common recommendations from those papers,” he added.

“Then, the next UPDJC meeting will discuss which recommendations should be submitted to the second peace conference,” he added.

Phadoe Mann Nyein Maung, a central executive committee member of the Karen National Union (KNU), spoke of three years of progress in Karen State following a KNU decision to join peace negotiations. The KNU can now discuss the aspirations and rights of all Karen people, he said.

The UDPJC also discussed the possibility of NCA non-signatories participating in the peace conference as special guests, observers or delegates, but no decision was reached, said Khun Myint Tun, chairman of the PNLO.

“We are taking a flexible approach, as they may sign [the NCA] before the conference in order to join it. We have agreed to try to get non-signatories to participate,” he said.