Mon Party Still Struggling to Hold Public Meetings Even After Ceasefire Deal

By Chit Min Tun 20 March 2018

YANGON — The New Mon State Party (NMSP) says it is still finding it hard to hold public consultations with ethnic Mon people as part of its national-level political dialogue more than a month after it signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with the government.

The national-level political dialogue is a mandatory step of the NCA, in which regional stakeholders gather at large, public consultations to give suggestions and recommendations that are then shared at the Union Peace Conference, also called the 21st Century Panglong.

The NMSP said it had to cancel five preliminary public meetings across Mon State on March 10 after the Myanmar Army, or Tatmadaw, refused to allow more than 30 people join each event.

“The military didn’t want more than 30 people at each of those places. If it is a public meeting, there must be public participation. Without the participation of the public, it is meaningless,” said Nai Win Hla, a member of the NMSP’s central executive committee.

On March 12, MNTV reported that Peace Commission Secretary U Khin Zaw Oo said the commission and Tatmadaw had reached an agreement to let the NMSP hold its public meetings.

Nai Win Hla, however, told The Irrawaddy that the party had yet to receive a reply from either the National Reconciliation and Peace Center or the Peace Commission.

The Irrawaddy was unable to reach U Khin Zaw Oo for comment.

In recent months the Tatmadaw also blocked efforts by the Restoration Council of Shan State to hold similar meetings for ethnic Shan.

The NMSP says it still plans to hold its national-level dialogue on April 6-9 in Mon State’s Ye Township and is asking the union government for permission to hold the smaller preliminary meetings with as many guests as it wants.

The 21st Century Panglong is scheduled for May in the administrative capital of Naypyitaw.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.