President Foreshadows Peace Dividend on Union Day Anniversary

By The Irrawaddy 12 February 2019

President U Win Myint urged people to cooperate with the government, lawmakers and the military in building a democratic federal state and achieving national reconciliation and socio-economic development during the 72nd anniversary of Union Day.

In an anniversary message on Tuesday, he addressed the ongoing peace process, negotiations with ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) and the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference, which he said, “is a pragmatic approach to achieving the dream of building a democratic federal Union that the people have longed for for 70 years.”

Prior to Myanmar’s independence from Britain in 1948, national leader Gen. Aung San joined 22 Saohpas and representatives of the ethnic Chin, Kachin and Shan in signing the Panglong Agreement on Feb. 12, 1947. The agreement states that, “freedom will be more speedily achieved by the Shan, the Kachin and the Chin by their immediate co-operation with the Interim Burmese Government.”

U Win Myint said the agreement helped lay the foundations for independence. But he added that, “due to that undesirable legacy and a variety of reasons, there was misunderstanding, mistrust and doubt among the ethnic people, thus leading to 70 years of armed conflicts. And it has not yet ceased.”

Despite an ongoing peace process, including the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference meetings, fighting continues today in Kachin, Rakhine and Shan states.

The 21st Century Panglong has convened three times since the National League for Democracy took power 2016, with 52 basic principles for the formation of a democratic federal Union agreed to date.

“In the meantime, based on the principle of all-inclusivity, the government is moving toward the goal to peace through negotiations with both the signatories and non-signatories of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement [NCA],” the president said.

“I firmly believe that when we achieve peace throughout the country, we can see the development of our states and regions in a short time.”

The government’s National Reconciliation and Peace Center, which oversees the peace process and is led by the State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, invited the 10 EAOs that have signed the NCA to Naypyitaw to join a Union Day dinner and to hold informal talks on Wednesday.

The center will meet with the leaders of the Karen National Union (KNU), including Chairman Saw Mutu Say Poe, in the morning and with all 10 groups in the afternoon.

Formal peace talks have been on hold since November, after the KNU said it was withdrawing from the process indefinitely and the Restoration Council of Shan State stopped participating in the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee.