Gov­ern­ment en­vi­sions Union peace di­a­logue ev­ery six months

The Myanmar Times - - News - PYAE THET PHYO – Trans­la­tion by Emoon and Thiri Min Htun pyae­thet­phyo@mm­times.com

WITH­OUT peace there will not be any eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, State Coun­sel­lor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said yes­ter­day as chair of the Union Peace Di­a­logue Joint Com­mit­tee (UPDJC), while a se­nior mem­ber of her gov­ern­ment re­vealed its plan to hold high-level peace con­fer­ences ev­ery six months.

“We will have peace of mind only once we have peace,” she said at a com­mit­tee ses­sion in Nay Pyi Taw. “With­out long-term peace, we can­not con­trol the econ­omy for pub­lic de­vel­op­ment.”

The econ­omy could fal­ter with­out peace, she added.

“We will not ig­nore eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment, but the way of peace is im­por­tant,” she said. “We will fo­cus on them at the same time be­cause we can­not ful­fill the peo­ple’s phys­i­cal and men­tal needs if there is no peace in the coun­try.”

A uni­fied vi­sion of the fu­ture is nec­es­sary, she said.

“The com­mon agree­ment is sim­ple,” she said. “I want to build a vast, au­then­tic Union.”

It is es­sen­tial, she said, for all eth­nic groups to be in­cluded in that Union.

“It is very im­por­tant to ne­go­ti­ate our dif­fer­ences of opin­ion,” she said. “For pos­i­tive out­comes, we should have a va­ri­ety of opin­ions. We must use our ne­go­ti­a­tion skills to get the best from all those va­ri­eties of opin­ion.”

The 21st-cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence, which the state coun­sel­lor was ref­er­enc­ing, will start on Au­gust 31.

Speak­ing to The Myan­mar Times fol­low­ing yes­ter­day’s UPDJC meet­ing, U Zaw Htay, deputy di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Pres­i­dent’s Of­fice, said after the Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence con­cludes, the gov­ern­ment will con­vene sim­i­lar di­a­logues ev­ery six months.

Ad­dress­ing lin­ger­ing un­cer­tainty over a di­chotomy that re­mains be­tween sig­na­to­ries to the na­tion­wide cease­fire agree­ment and non-sig­na­to­ries, the se­nior of­fi­cial ap­peared to in­di­cate that the two groups would be af­forded an equal seat at the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was “open­ing the door wider”, he said.

“For us, sig­na­to­ries and non-sig­na­to­ries to the NCA are of the same sta­tus to at­tend the peace con­fer­ence. We did not stip­u­late that only sig­na­to­ries can at­tend the con­fer­ence,” he added.

The at­ten­dance of a trio of eth­nic armed groups in par­tic­u­lar – the Myan­mar Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance Army, the Ta’ang Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army and the Arakan Army – looked ques­tion­able last week after the gov­ern­ment seemed to in­di­cate that they would need to dis­arm in or­der to join the peace process go­ing for­ward.

The three groups were not in­vited to ne­go­ti­a­tions that led to the sign­ing of last year’s NCA, and while they are among about a dozen non-sig­na­to­ries to the NCA, their re­la­tion­ship with the Tat­madaw and the gov­ern­ment has been ap­proached as dif­fer­ent from the rest.

“All can be in­cluded in the peace con­fer­ence – from the Tat­madaw side and the armed eth­nic groups’ side,” said UPDJC mem­ber Aye Maung, who is also a mem­ber of the Arakan Na­tional Party. “If we can be­gin to take steps to­ward na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion … it would be bet­ter for the Union. We agreed in the meet­ing on that opin­ion.” He echoed that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has asked for the peace talks to in­clude all eth­nic groups.

“The new gov­ern­ment started half­way through the process,” he said. “It has a big re­spon­si­bil­ity. The whole Union needs to have a gen­er­ous mind and au­thor­i­ties should have a more gen­er­ous spirit.”

Zaw Htay said about 1600 peo­ple were ex­pected to at­tend the con­fer­ence from an ar­ray of back­grounds and ca­pac­i­ties, while not­ing a dis­tinc­tion be­tween “at­ten­dees” and “con­fer­ence rep­re­sen­ta­tives”. Last week an­other se­nior cab­i­net of­fi­cial said a fi­nal ros­ter of the con­fer­ence’s of­fi­cial par­tic­i­pants would num­ber about 700.

Photo: Pyae Thet Phyo

Union Peace Di­a­logue Joint Com­mit­tee chair Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at­tends a meet­ing in Nay Pyi Taw yes­ter­day.

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