Six-Party Talks Back on the Agenda, Again

By Zue Zue 13 March 2015

RANGOON — Union Parliament Speaker Shwe Mann has told political leaders in Naypyidaw that six-party talks pushed for by lawmakers will be held within a few days, after holding a private meeting with parliamentarians and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday.

Though a date for the talks has not yet been set, those taking part have been asked not to travel from Naypyidaw over the next few days, according to Upper House lawmaker Dr Aye Maung, who was elected late last year to attend the talks on behalf of ethnic minority lawmakers.

“Since I will have to speak on behalf of ethnicities, I need to make sure I do not speak on my party’s line,” Aye Maung told The Irrawaddy. “I will talk about the things I was mandated to discuss. I plan to meet ethnic parties [on Friday evening] to discuss the agenda.”

Late last year, Suu Kyi called for a four-party discussion between the president, the army commander-in-chief, house speaker Thura Shwe Mann and herself, a proposal rebuffed by the government.

In November, the Union Parliament instead passed a resolution urging a six-party discussion between President Thein Sein, Army Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing, speakers Shwe Mann and Khin Aung Myint, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Aye Maung.

While the proposal languished, divisional parliaments in Rangoon and Sagaing passed their own resolutions calling for 12-party discussions to incorporate more ethnic representatives. President Thein Sein held a 48-member forum of ethnic representatives on Jan. 12 with no results, drawing criticism from lawmakers.

“Talks were held, but none of them has delivered tangible results, said 88 Generation Peace and Open Society member Mya Aye. “They were mere talks, against all expectations of the people. Whatever the number of participants is, I wish the talks could deliver beneficial results for the country. No matter how frequently the talks are held, our efforts will come to nothing if there is no result.”

Following another resolution by the Union Parliament, President Thein Sein was urged on Jan. 22 to convene the proposed six-party discussion as soon as possible.

President Thein Sein and Suu Kyi last met in Naypyidaw on Mar. 2, reportedly discussing reform to the military-drafted Constitution and the upcoming general election.