Kayah po­lit­i­cal par­ties boy­cott Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence

The Myanmar Times - - News - THU THU AUNG thuthuaung@mm­times.com

KAYAH State-based po­lit­i­cal par­ties have re­jected an in­vi­ta­tion to next week’s 21st-cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence, ex­press­ing dis­sat­is­fac­tion at the mea­gre representational quota they have been granted as un­suc­cess­ful con­tes­tants in last year’s elec­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional League for Democ­racy gov­ern­ment’s plan for the con­fer­ence, about 70 po­lit­i­cal par­ties that did not win any seats in the Novem­ber elec­tion will be granted just five seats at the ta­ble, out of about 700 rep­re­sen­ta­tives in to­tal.

“We got an in­vi­ta­tion let­ter from the Na­tional Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and Peace Cen­ter. We de­cided it doesn’t make a dif­fer­ence whether we at­tend the con­fer­ence or not. We re­ject par­tic­i­pa­tion and ob­ject to the in­vi­ta­tion,” said U Phoe Yal, chair of the All Na­tion­al­i­ties Democ­racy Party (ANDP).

The ANDP, the Kayah Unity Democ­racy Party (KUDP) and the Kayan Na­tional Party (KNP) jointly de­cided on Au­gust 20 that they would not at­tend the Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence, the NLD’s first ma­jor foray into Myan­mar’s peace process.

A state­ment re­leased by the three groups said, “To the Kayah State par­ties, it seems like dis­crim­i­na­tion against po­lit­i­cal par­ties that didn’t win a seat in the 2015 elec­tion.”

On Au­gust 10, a se­nior NLD cab­i­net of­fi­cial an­nounced that about 700 rep­re­sen­ta­tives were ex­pected to at­tend the Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence. Ac­cord­ing to a po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue frame­work ap­proved un­der the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment, the ex­ec­u­tive and par­lia­ment are both set to hold 75 seats, with 150 seats each for the Tat­madaw, eth­nic armed or­gan­i­sa­tions and elec­tion-win­ning po­lit­i­cal par­ties, and 50 seats each for eth­nic rep­re­sen­ta­tives and “other in­vi­tees”.

U Phoe Yal said the five seats for po­lit­i­cal par­ties with­out rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the na­tion’s leg­is­la­tures would fall un­der the lat­ter two group­ings to­talling 100.

Echo­ing the ANDP leader’s com­plaint, U Khum Bee Htoo, chair of the KNP, said five seats were too few for the dozens of po­lit­i­cal par­ties that con­tested the elec­tion un­suc­cess­fully.

U Phoe Yal said Kayah State po­lit­i­cal par­ties would in­stead rely on proxy rep­re­sen­ta­tion at the Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence, which is due to con­vene on Au­gust 31 in Nay Pyi Taw.

“We will not at­tend but other at­ten­dants from our state will rep­re­sent our ex­pec­ta­tions on the peace frame­work and fed­eral Union,” he said. “We al­ready dis­cussed the is­sues for 21st-cen­tury Pan­g­long among armed groups, po­lit­i­cal par­ties and CSOs.”

The three par­ties’ state­ment said they had not been in­formed of the out­come of a re­view of the frame­work for po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue that took place ear­lier this month, as well as be­ing kept in the dark on the forth­com­ing Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence.

Mean­while, with just over a week un­til the Nay Pyi Taw gath­er­ing, eth­nic armed groups, po­lit­i­cal par­ties, civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions and youth as­so­ci­a­tions na­tion­wide are busy pre­par­ing to present their po­si­tions – and jock­ey­ing for po­lit­i­cal space.

A state­ment re­leased by eth­nic youth ac­tivists fol­low­ing a re­cent sum­mit in Shan State de­manded that youth voices be ac­corded a spe­cific al­lo­ca­tion of seats at the Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence.

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