Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence to start on Au­gust 31

The cor­ner­stone of the gov­ern­ment’s peace plan will just meet the promised time­line, the state coun­sel­lor’s of­fice an­nounced yes­ter­day af­ter high-level meet­ings in Nay Pyi Taw.

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - LUN MIN MANG lun­min­mang@mm­times.com

THE linch­pin of the gov­ern­ment’s peace process will be con­vened on Au­gust 31, just in time to meet the promised sched­ule, the cen­tral prepa­ra­tion com­mit­tee for the 21st-cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence re­vealed yes­ter­day.

The du­ra­tion of the con­fer­ence has yet to be an­nounced, with more spe­cific lo­gis­tics to be de­ter­mined next week, U Zaw Htay, deputy di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Pres­i­dent’s Of­fice, told The Myan­mar Times.

“We will have a meet­ing of the Union Peace Di­a­logue Joint Com­mit­tee [a tri­par­tite com­mit­tee com­prised of the gov­ern­ment, po­lit­i­cal par­ties and sig­na­tory armed eth­nic groups] on Au­gust 15 in Nay Pyi Taw. At that meet­ing, we will dis­cuss and de­ter­mine how long the 21st-cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence will be,” he said.

Yes­ter­day’s announcement was made shortly af­ter the state coun­sel­lor held a two-hour-long meet­ing with Se­nior Gen­eral Min Aung Hlaing at the Pres­i­den­tial Res­i­dence.

The state coun­sel­lor’s of­fi­cial Face­book page re­leased a short state­ment say­ing the dis­cus­sion be­tween the two power­bro­kers fo­cused mainly on the peace process.

“The prospect of a cease­fire in Kachin State and north­ern Shan State, na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and in­ter­nal peace, and rule of law and sta­bil­ity,” were all talk­ing points, ac­cord­ing to the state­ment.

Hold­ing the Union Peace Con­fer­ence was also on the agenda at the meet­ing, which in­volved sev­eral other high-level of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing the Union at­tor­ney gen­eral, the chair of the peace com­mis­sion and the min­is­ter for bor­der af­fairs.

Pho­tos re­leased of the meet­ing showed Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the com­man­der-in-chief greet­ing each other warmly and laugh­ing. Ac­cord­ing to po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts, the state coun­sel­lor and se­nior gen­eral have worked hard to thaw frosty re­la­tions in the lead-up to the Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence, or at least project the ap­pear­ance of con­ge­nial ties.

The series of public ap­pear­ances to­gether be­gan in mid-July when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi ac­com­pa­nied Snr Gen Min Aung Hlaing on a visit to the Mil­i­tary Mu­seum in Nay Pyi Taw. This was fol­lowed by the com­man­derin-chief’s his­toric in­volve­ment in Mar­tyrs’ Day com­mem­o­ra­tive events, and a lunch at Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s Inya Lake-side home. Snr Gen Min Aung Hlaing also watched a football match along­side Pres­i­dent U Htin Kyaw.

The mil­i­tary mean­while has also taken un­prece­dented steps in the name of na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, in­clud­ing ad­mit­ting the Tat­madaw’s in­volve­ment in killing five civil­ian mur­ders.

The Tat­madaw also ap­pears to have soft­ened its out­look on the in­clu­siv­ity of the peace process.

Pre­vi­ously, the Tat­madaw was adamant that all three Kokang al­lies must sur­ren­der their arms be­fore join­ing the peace talks. But last week, re­tired lieu­tenant gen­eral U Khin Zaw Oo, sec­re­tary of the gov­ern­ment’s Peace Com­mis­sion, said three al­lies that had been barred from the peace process un­der such terms may now be al­lowed to par­tic­i­pate in the Pan­g­long.

The Myan­mar Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance Army (MNDAA), the Ta’ang Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army (TNLA) and the Arakan Army (AA) – three non-cease­fire sig­na­to­ries cur­rently en­gaged in clashes against the Tatam­daw – will be in­vited so long as they for­mally sig­nal their readi­ness to be en­gaged in the peace process, U Khin Zaw Oo said.

U Aung Thu Nyein, a mem­ber of the newly formed In­sti­tute for Strat­egy and Pol­icy for Myan­mar, told The Myan­mar Times the state coun­sel­lor and com­man­der-in-chief’s ce­ment­ing of ties bodes well for the up­com­ing con­fer­ence.

U Than Soe Naing, a po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor, said the Tat­madaw com­man­der-in-chief is ful­fill­ing his pledge of help­ing the new ad­min­is­tra­tion achieve peace within its five year term.

“For years, the mil­i­tary’s reputation and im­age with re­gards to hu­man rights was tar­nished,” he said. “But I think with the chance to co­op­er­ate with the state coun­sel­lor and to fur­ther her agenda of peace, they want a cleaner im­age.”

Armed eth­nic groups, in­clud­ing sig­na­to­ries and non-sig­na­to­ries to last year’s na­tion­wide cease­fire agree­ment, have also been so­lid­i­fy­ing their unity as they gear up for the Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence. The five-day Mai Ja Yang sum­mit in ter­ri­tory con­trolled by the Kachin In­de­pen­dence Army con­cluded at the end of July with the pledge to up­hold the com­mon goals of a longterm fed­eral Union and to work for a pos­i­tive out­come for the 21st-cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence.

But U Than Soe Naing cau­tioned the con­fer­ence will need to start off on the best foot pos­si­ble in or­der to se­cure any sub­stan­tial agree­ments be­tween the gov­ern­ment, the Tat­madaw and the eth­nic groups.

“We can­not pre­dict if the con­fer­ence will suc­ceed or not. But … its suc­cess will de­ter­mine the reputation and the legacy of both the state coun­sel­lor and the Tat­madaw com­man­der-inchief,” he said.

‘[The Pan­g­long’s] suc­cess will de­ter­mine the reputation and the legacy of both the state coun­sel­lor and the Tat­madaw com­man­der-in-chief.’

Than Naing Soe Po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor

Photo: Face­book/State Coun­sel­lor’s Of­fice

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (right) met with Se­nior Gen­eral Min Aung Hlaing (cen­tre) yes­ter­day.

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