Sec­ond 21st Cen­tury Pan­g­long

Ma­jor de­ci­sions de­bated over the fu­ture of the Union

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS - Sai Wan­sai

The sec­ond Union Peace Con­fer­ence - 21st Cen­tury Pan­g­long (UPC-21CP) was held by the gov­ern­ment from May 24 un­til 29, one day more than sched­uled. The first one, largely a trust build­ing ex­er­cise, was con­vened in Au­gust-Septem­ber in 2016.

The dif­fer­ence be­tween the first UPC-21CP and the sec­ond one is that while the first one was just a po­lit­i­cal po­si­tion pa­per fo­rum where some 72 pa­pers were read, with­out dis­cus­sion or as­sess­ment, the sec­ond one sought to lay down the pre­lim­i­nary gen­eral prin­ci­pals on how the for­ma­tion of a fed­eral union should be achieved.

The first UPC-21CP was at­tended by most of the 21 Eth­nic Armed Or­ga­ni­za­tions (EAOs), with the ex­clu­sion of Kokang, Ta’ang and Arakan armies, while the sec­ond one in­volved the said three un­der the ban­ner of the Pangkham al­liance. But the United Na­tion­al­i­ties Fed­eral Coun­cil (UNFC) which was at the first con­fer­ence chose to stay away due to the as­sump­tion that it was be­ing slighted and its 9-point pro­posal to amend the Na­tion­wide Cease­fire Agree­ment (NCA) ig­nored.

NCA and Pangkham al­liance game plan

A new game plan ini­ti­ated by the Pangkham al­liance which in­volves the 7 EAOs that re­ject the gov­ern­ment’s NCA has been in ex­is­tence for some­times. But lat­est de­vel­op­ments now in­di­cate the al­liance might go along if the gov­ern­ment ac­cepts al­ter­ations to the NCA. Re­port­edly, it pro­duced a new cease­fire pro­posal ver­sion con­cern­ing only mil­i­tary mat­ters, un­like the present NCA which is a mix­ture of both pol­i­tics and mil­i­tary is­sues. The Pangkham-led 7 EAOs mil­i­tary-po­lit­i­cal al­liance in­cludes the United Wa State Party/Army (UWSP/UWSA), United League of Arakan/Arakan Army (ULA/AA), Kachin In­de­pen­dence Or­ga­ni­za­tion/ Army (KIO/KIA), Palaung State Lib­er­a­tion Front/Ta’ang Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army (PSLF/TNLA), Myan­mar Na­tional Truth and Jus­tice Party/Myan­mar Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance Army (MNTJP/MNDAA), Peace and Sol­i­dar­ity Com­mit­tee/Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance Army (PSC/NDAA) and Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA).

Pangkham Al­liance in­sists that the NCA-based peace process is not work­ing as it is un­able to stop the war in Kachin and Shan States and is a process aimed at re­plac­ing the Pan­g­long Agree­ment of 1947, which the al­liance con­sid­ers to be their his­tor­i­cal-po­lit­i­cal legacy vested with rights of self-de­ter­mi­na­tion, equal­ity and democ­racy and also the sole le­gal bond, to form a new po­lit­i­cal

en­tity called the Union of Burma, be­tween the eth­nic na­tion­al­i­ties and the Ba­mar state prior to in­de­pen­dence from the Bri­tish in 1948.

Thus, the Pangkham Al­liance wants to end the war in the north of the coun­try first, fol­lowed by po­lit­i­cal ne­go­ti­a­tion and even­tual po­lit­i­cal set­tle­ment. But this has changed to the de­mand for al­ter­ation of the NCA. The UWSA rep­re­sen­ta­tive del­e­ga­tion gave a book­let, “Amend­ment pro­posal of the na­tion­wide cease­fire agree­ment time­line be­tween the Wa State and Myan­mar Gov­ern­ment”, dated April 30, 2017, to the me­dia. The book­let said that due to China’s pres­sure the UWSA has changed its stance to amend the NCA and re­quested the gov­ern­ment and Tat­madaw ac­cord­ingly.

Open­ing speeches

In re­sponse to the stance of Pangkham al­liance now of­fi­cially named Fed­eral Po­lit­i­cal Ne­go­ti­a­tion and Con­sul­ta­tive Com­mit­tee (FPNCC), Com­man­der-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing made a re­mark on May 24. He said, “Ig­nor­ing this (NCA) and pur­su­ing a sec­ond way will be an at­tempt to loathe the es­tab­lish­ment of a Union based on peace, democ­racy and fed­er­al­ism. As such, we have to as­sume that the at­tempt is tan­ta­mount to grab­bing power and split­ting from the Union through armed strug­gle,” ac­cord­ing to state me­dia.

He fur­ther stressed, “Study­ing 72 pa­pers sub­mit­ted at the pre­vi­ous con­fer­ence, we came to no­tice that the dis­cus­sions, ac­tiv­i­ties and ba­sic con­cepts of some eth­nic groups are far be­yond the fed­eral sys­tem, which is the right of au­ton­omy. Such acts go against the de­sires and in­ter­est of the peo­ple who have high ex­pec­ta­tions of the democ­racy cause and peace process. As an in­sti­tu­tion re­spon­si­ble for pro­tect­ing the in­ter­ests of the State and the peo­ple, the Tat­madaw has to face any or­gan­i­sa­tion com­mit­ting de­struc­tive acts in line with its re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

State Coun­selor Aung San Suu Kyi’s said, “Al­most ev­ery­one ac­cepts that the res­o­lu­tion to our coun­try’s long-run­ning armed con­flicts is a fed­eral sys­tem that is ac­cept­able to all. Our goal is, there­fore, the “emer­gence of a demo­cratic fed­eral union based on democ­racy and fed­er­al­ism”. Whether or not we will achieve this goal rests in all of our hands. It is a re­spon­si­bil­ity that falls on all of our shoul­ders. I do not think that any of us would wish to avoid, re­ject or shrink away from this re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

Five sec­tors of dis­cus­sion

Five ma­jor sec­tors of po­lit­i­cal, so­cial, land and en­vi­ron­ment, econ­omy and se­cu­rity were said to be dis­cussed.

It was said that po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity sec­tors didn’t achieve de­sir­able re­sults, although the other three re­sulted in agree­ment, ac­cord­ing to news re­ports.

Po­lit­i­cal sec­tor dis­cus­sion was said to be marred by the non-se­ces­sion is­sue, which the Tat­madaw in­sisted on in­clud­ing in the pre­lim­i­nary agree­ment as a pro­hi­bi­tion for the eth­nic states to ex­er­cise se­ces­sion. There was also an heated ar­gu­ment on one na­tional army and the choice of name, whether it should be “Tat­madaw”, as it is now or “Fed­eral Army” as re­ferred to by the EAOs.

Look­ing for­ward

The con­fer­ence was once again not in­clu­sive as the 5 UNFC mem­bers and the Na­tional So­cial­ist Coun­cil of Na­ga­land-Kha­p­lang (NSCN-K) were not present. Be­sides, the 7 EAOs from Pangkham al­liance were only there for the open­ing cer­e­mony of the con­fer­ence and did not par­tic­i­pate in the dis­cus­sions.

But the pos­i­tive devel­op­ment is that the gov­ern­ment fac­tion has di­ver­si­fied the process by wel­com­ing and meet­ing the Pangkham Al­liance and opened up com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels for fur­ther talks re­gard­ing the NCA amend­ment.

In a sense, this could be now viewed as an ap­proach some­what like what the UNFC has been propos­ing all along. Thus, it would now mean that the State Coun­selor’s Peace Coun­cil (PC) team would ne­go­ti­ate with the Pangkham al­liance and also with the UNFC fur­ther for NCA al­ter­ation.

At the sec­ond UPC-21CP, po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity sec­tor dis­cus­sions have proven to be dif­fi­cult and no agree­ment could be found be­tween the rep­re­sen­ta­tives at­tend­ing the con­fer­ence.

In spite of all these, Suu Kyi’s move to wel­come the Pangkham al­liance is a pos­i­tive ap­proach and the way to go, which would be bet­ter if this could be ex­tended to the UNFC, with nec­es­sary ac­com­mo­da­tion for NCA amend­ment. The even­tual amend­ment of the NCA ac­cord­ing to the UNFC’s nine-point pro­posal, which in­cludes a gen­uine na­tion­wide cease­fire an­nounce­ment by the Tat­madaw, real tri­par­tite di­a­logue – gov­ern­ment, par­lia­ment, mil­i­tary; EAOs; and po­lit­i­cal par­ties - at all lev­els of the peace process and a sin­cere prom­ise to build a real fed­eral union, would def­i­nitely pave the way for even­tual Pangkham Al­liance in­volve­ment, rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and na­tional har­mony that all have been longing for for decades.

Photo: Hong Sar for Mizzima

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