De­bates con­tinue as Pan­g­long looms

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - LUN MIN MANG lun­min­mang@mm­

Day two of a meet­ing to re­view the frame­work for po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue at next week’s 21stcen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence got hung up on ques­tions of rep­re­sen­ta­tion and de­ci­sion-mak­ing.

TWO hur­dles be­dev­illed a fi­nal con­sen­sus at the sec­ond-day meet­ing to re­view the frame­work for po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue – a core in­stru­ment for up­com­ing peace ne­go­ti­a­tions – in­volv­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the gov­ern­ment, eth­nic armed or­gan­i­sa­tions and po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

Mean­while, a joint con­ven­ing com­mit­tee for the 21st-cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence was formed yes­ter­day as the two-day meet­ing re­sumed at Yan­gon’s Na­tional Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and Peace Cen­ter to re­view the po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue frame­work and pre­pare for the up­com­ing con­fer­ence.

Sai Kyaw Nyunt, an eth­nic Shan politi­cian from the Shan Na­tion­al­i­ties League for Democ­racy (SNLD), told The Myan­mar Times that agree­ment among the par­ties was nearly reached on the “five sub­jects of dis­cus­sion” that will be on the ta­ble in po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue meet­ings to fol­low the Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence.

“We dis­cussed re­duc­ing the sub­ti­tles [grouped] un­der the five sub­jects of the di­a­logue and only a few sub-ti­tles of the 10 have yet to be agreed,” he said.

Though State Coun­sel­lor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi pre­vi­ously said the ini­tial po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue should only dis­cuss “pol­i­tics and security mat­ters”, eth­nic armed groups at a meet­ing in Mai Ja Yang, Kachin State, last month agreed to tack four more sub­jects – so­cial and eco­nomic is­sues, as well as land and nat­u­ral re­source management – on to the state coun­sel­lor’s sug­gested agenda.

“The two ma­jor ti­tles for which there were tough de­bates among par­tic­i­pants of the talks are on ‘rep­re­sen­ta­tion and de­ci­sion-mak­ing’ is­sues,” Sai Kyaw Nyunt said.

While the gov­ern­ment main­tains that the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of suc­ces­sive po­lit­i­cal di­a­logues post-Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence should be bro­ken down into seven par­ties, eth­nic armed or­gan­i­sa­tions agreed at their Mai Ja Yang meet­ing to re­duce the com­po­si­tion to only three groups – the gov­ern­ment, eth­nic armed groups and po­lit­i­cal par­ties – in hopes of stream­lin­ing the po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue.

Also hold­ing back ne­go­tia­tors is dis­agree­ment over the vote thresh­olds re­quired among stake­hold­ers in or­der for de­ci­sions to be of­fi­cially taken at the po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue.

None­the­less, with the par­tic­i­pa­tion in yes­ter­day’s talks of the Delegation for Po­lit­i­cal Ne­go­ti­a­tion, made up of rep­re­sen­ta­tives from eth­nic armed group non-sig­na­to­ries to the na­tion­wide cease­fire agree­ment, a Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence joint con­ven­ing com­mit­tee was of­fi­cially formed.

Min­is­ter for the State Coun­sel­lor’s Of­fice U Kyaw Tint Swe was se­lected as chair of the com­mit­tee, with three vice chairs – U Tin Myo Win from the gov­ern­ment, Pado Saw Kwe Htoo Win rep­re­sent­ing eth­nic armed groups and U Thu Wai on be­half of po­lit­i­cal par­ties – se­lected as well.

Un­der the joint com­mit­tee, a work­ing com­mit­tee con­sist­ing of 10 mem­bers was also formed. It too is a tri­par­tite com­mit­tee con­sist­ing of rep­re­sen­ta­tives of gov­ern­ment, eth­nic armed groups and po­lit­i­cal par­ties, and was as­signed to draw up a de­tailed pro­gram on how the Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence will be held.

Salai Lian Hmung, a se­nior of­fi­cial from the Chin Na­tional Front, an NCA sig­na­tory group, said non-sig­na­tory eth­nic armed groups have yet to sub­mit a list of mem­bers who will join the joint prepara­tory com­mit­tee. A de­ci­sion to in­clude the non-sig­na­to­ries in the com­mit­tee was made last week.

Sim­i­lar to the NCA sign­ing cer­e­mony in Oc­to­ber be­tween the for­mer gov­ern­ment and eight non-state armed groups, the up­com­ing Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence will also host ob­servers from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

“We will in­vite donors to the peace process, in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions and diplo­mats to the cer­e­mony,” Salai Lian Hmung said.

Or­gan­is­ers have pre­vi­ously de­scribed the five-day Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence as merely a “grand open­ing cer­e­mony” for the in­cum­bent gov­ern­ment’s peace plans.

“We are sure that 18 armed eth­nic or­gan­i­sa­tions will co­op­er­ate with us in the peace process, while ne­go­ti­a­tions for the three groups con­tinue,” Salai Lian Hmung said, re­fer­ring to the Myan­mar Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance Army, the Ta’ang Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army and the Arakan Army, a trio of eth­nic armed groups whose par­tic­i­pa­tion re­mains un­cer­tain.

A Tat­madaw de­mand that the three groups turn their arms over to an agreed third party in or­der to join the peace process has been met un­favourably by the ar­mies in ques­tion.

Non-elec­tion-win­ning po­lit­i­cal par­ties are sched­uled to meet to­day to se­lect among them­selves the five rep­re­sen­ta­tives they have been granted as Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence at­ten­dees. U Hla Maung Shwe, a se­nior peace en­voy for the gov­ern­ment, said all chair­per­sons of of­fi­cially reg­is­tered po­lit­i­cal par­ties would be in­vited to the first day of the con­fer­ence on Au­gust 31.

U Thu Wai, chair of the Demo­cratic Party (Myan­mar), in clos­ing re­marks yes­ter­day urged ne­go­tia­tors from the gov­ern­ment and eth­nic armed or­gan­i­sa­tions to solve ma­jor dif­fer­ences through di­a­logue.

“If there hap­pen to be di­verse per­spec­tives among us, they should be re­solved by di­a­logue as writ­ten in the text of the na­tion­wide cease­fire agree­ment. This is also the demo­cratic way. Dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ments’ peace pro­cesses in the past did not have ab­so­lute suc­cess, but we have a de­sire to see suc­cess at this Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence to the fullest ex­tent,” he said.


Salai Lian Hmung from the Chin Na­tional Front speaks to the me­dia in Yan­gon yes­ter­day.

Photo: Aung Myin Ye Zaw

Pado Saw Kwe Htoo Win of the Karen Na­tional Union speaks at yes­ter­day’s meet­ing at Yan­gon’s Na­tional Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and Peace Cen­ter.

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