Representation of past conference prevails for 21st-century Panglong
U KYAW Tint Swe, minister for the Office of the State Counsellor, said about 700 representatives are expected to attend the so-called 21st-century Panglong Conference late this month, with a roster in structure cloning previous highlevel peace talks convened in January under the previous government.
The senior minister was speaking yesterday in response to a query from Amyotha Hluttaw lawmaker U Kyaw Ni Naing (USDP; Shan 11), who was seeking clarity on the summit, alternatively referred to as a follow-up to the Union Peace Conference held early this year.
Taking a page from the previous government’s peace negotiations playbook, the conference will include representatives numbering 150 for each of the Tatmadaw, ethnic armed group signatories to the so-called nationwide ceasefire agreement and political parties; 75 from both the executive branch and parliament; and 50 each for ethnic and “other relevant” representatives, in line with the proportional representation for the January meeting.
Though the allocations are the same, many of the faces present will be new, with both parliament and the executive now dominated by the National League for Democracy, versus a January summit in which those two branches were controlled by the Union Solidarity and Development Party.
Not addressed yesterday was whether seats would be allotted to ethnic armed groups granted “observer” status, as was the case for 50 delegates from non-signatories to October’s NCA.
What kind of status non-signatories will be afforded at the upcoming peace talks remains an unknown, with U Kyaw Tint Swe declining to comment on the issue when asked by a reporter yesterday.
The Union minister said a finalised list of conference attendees and a review of the framework for political dialogue would be discussed and approved at a meeting of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC). That meeting is slated for mid-August, U Kyaw Tint Swe told media at the hluttaw complex.
But Colonel Sai La, spokesperson for the Restoration Council of Shan State, said yesterday that U Kyaw Tint Swe’s announcement was out of place, and such logistics should be determined only after the framework has been settled.
“Since it is a composition issue of the framework and the review meeting for the framework has not started yet, I think such announcements should come later,” he said.
The government announced this week that the 21st-century Panglong Conference would convene on August 31.