YANGON — The third session of the 21st-Century Panglong Peace Conference will be delayed until February to accommodate recent developments in the peace process, a spokesman for the President’s Office said. The talks were previously slated to be held in the fourth week of January.
“It won’t be possible to hold the conference by the end of this month. We’ll have to discuss a date in February with the ethnic armed organizations [EAOs],” U Zaw Htay said.
The New Mon State Party (NMSP) and Ladu Democratic Union (LDU), both of which are members of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) bloc of EAOs, met State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Army Chief Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing on Tuesday, and agreed to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).
The government wants to give the NMSP and LDU time to prepare to join the third session of the conference, the spokesman said.
“The NMSP and LDU will need to engage in consultations prior to the conference. So, we need to give them time,” he said.
The third session of the Panglong Conference was originally scheduled for December, before being postponed to January.
The national-level political dialogue is required under the terms of the NCA. It calls for regional stakeholders to solicit suggestions and recommendations at large-scale public consultations, which are then shared by the community’s representatives at the Union Peace Conference, also known as 21st-Century Panglong.
Under the NCA, signatories can hold national-level dialogues (NDs) based on one of the following: region, theme or ethnicity.
However, the government has not allowed the political dialogue to proceed in Rakhine State, citing security concerns. The Myanmar Army also stopped public consultations in Shan State in December.
In a joint statement released on Jan. 12, the Peace Process Steering Team (PSST) of eight NCA signatories insisted that the third session of the Panglong Conference should only be held after agreements are reached on holding national political dialogues in Shan and Rakhine states.