UN chief to at­tend 21st-cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence

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

UNITED Na­tions Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon will at­tend the open­ing cer­e­mony of the 21st-cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence on Au­gust 31, ac­cord­ing to U Zaw Htay, deputy di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Pres­i­dent’s Of­fice.

“The United Na­tions has been sup­port­ive of the peace process of our coun­try,” U Zaw Htay said in ex­plain­ing the rea­son­ing be­hind the gov­ern­ment’s in­vi­ta­tion to the UN chief.

The sec­re­tary gen­eral, whose term will ex­pire at the end of this year, will also at­tend a state-hosted din­ner, he added.

“We are invit­ing all diplo­mats, em­bassies, donors to the peace process and in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions to at­tend the 21st-cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence,” U Zaw Htay said.

Vi­jay Nam­biar, the UN sec­re­tary gen­eral’s spe­cial ad­viser for Myan­mar, who at­tended last month’s sum­mit of eth­nic armed or­gan­i­sa­tions in Mai Ja Yang, Kachin State, said at the time that the United Na­tions would con­tinue to sup­port Myan­mar in achiev­ing in­ter­nal peace by en­gag­ing with all con­cerned stake­hold­ers.

Mean­while, fol­low­ing protests by some politi­cians, a planned meet­ing of po­lit­i­cal par­ties that did not win any seats in last year’s elec­tion, sched­uled to se­lect rep­re­sen­ta­tives for five seats at the Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence ta­ble, was called off yes­ter­day.

Mem­bers of about 30 po­lit­i­cal par­ties were left an­gry by a fail­ure to ad­dress their griev­ances, chiefly that the seat al­lo­ca­tion granted by the gov­ern­ment was too small.

Ac­cord­ing to ac­counts from some of the ag­grieved, the of­fi­cer-in-charge at the NRPC said he did not have the author­ity to han­dle the com­plaint, but would “re­port the re­sults of the meet­ing to his su­pe­ri­ors”.

Although State Coun­sel­lor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi pre­vi­ously said non­elec­tion-win­ning par­ties would not have any rep­re­sen­ta­tion at the Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence and should in­stead join a Civil So­ci­ety Or­gan­i­sa­tions’ Peace Fo­rum to be held con­cur­rently, the gov­ern­ment later back­tracked and said five seats would be re­served for the par­ties as “ap­pro­pri­ate oth­ers”, a des­ig­na­tion that has been granted 50 seats in to­tal.

More than 1800 peo­ple are ex­pected to at­tend the Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence in one ca­pac­ity or another, ac­cord­ing to peace ne­go­tia­tors.

In ac­cor­dance with the texts of the na­tion­wide cease­fire agree­ment and the po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue frame­work, po­lit­i­cal par­ties are recog­nised as a vested stake­holder af­forded rep­re­sen­ta­tion at the po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue. How­ever, the two guid­ing doc­u­ments for Myan­mar’s peace process do not clearly state whether po­lit­i­cal par­ties that failed to win a sin­gle race in last year’s elec­tion fall within the terms.

At the Union Peace Con­fer­ence held dur­ing the term of then-pres­i­dent U Thein Sein in Jan­uary, all po­lit­i­cal par­ties were in­vited to the con­fer­ence, given 150 seats to split among more than 90 reg­is­tered po­lit­i­cal par­ties re­gard­less of their elec­toral sta­tus. All told, more than 700 rep­re­sen­ta­tives at­tended that con­fer­ence.

Since the non-win­ning po­lit­i­cal par­ties are officially reg­is­tered in ac­cor­dance with the law, they should be al­lowed to par­tic­i­pate in the peace process “re­gard­less of their size and elec­tion re­sults”, read a state­ment re­leased yes­ter­day by some of the non­win­ning par­ties, mak­ing the case that the con­fer­ence marked an im­por­tant event for the whole coun­try.

“The in­ten­tion of the meet­ing was to se­lect five rep­re­sen­ta­tives on be­half of 70 po­lit­i­cal par­ties, who will not be al­lowed to par­tic­i­pate as ‘rep­re­sen­ta­tives of po­lit­i­cal par­ties’, but as ‘ap­pro­pri­ate in­di­vid­u­als’. We strongly protest the plan, which is dis­crim­i­na­tory,” said the state­ment.

In an ap­par­ent over­ture, gov­ern­ment peace aides, af­ter con­clud­ing a meet­ing with armed eth­nic groups and elec­tion-win­ning po­lit­i­cal par­ties this week, said all chair­per­sons of non-elec­tion-win­ning po­lit­i­cal par­ties would be in­vited to the first day of the five-day con­fer­ence in Nay Pyi Taw.

Saw Than Myint, a mem­ber of the Fed­eral Union Party, said that was not enough, ar­gu­ing that the gov­ern­ment’s “five-seat plan” for non-elec­tion win­ning par­ties was “un­fair” and “dis­crim­i­na­tory”.

“We are also officially reg­is­tered po­lit­i­cal par­ties. Will it be rel­e­vant if po­lit­i­cal par­ties are not al­lowed in the po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue and ne­go­ti­a­tion talks? It is un­fair to ex­clude po­lit­i­cal par­ties from the Union Peace Con­fer­ence,” he said.

Three eth­nic Kayah po­lit­i­cal par­ties – the All Na­tion­al­i­ties Democ­racy Party (Kayah State), the Kayah Unity Democ­racy Party and the Kayan Na­tional Party – on Au­gust 20 de­cided to re­ject a Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence in­vi­ta­tion sent by the gov­ern­ment, echo­ing ac­cu­sa­tions of dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Man Aung Pyi Soe, a se­nior of­fi­cial from the Phlone-Sqaw Demo­cratic Party, said four Karen par­ties – his own, the Karen Na­tional Party, the Karen Demo­cratic Party, and the Karen State Democ­racy and Devel­op­ment Party – have urged the gov­ern­ment to al­low the non-elec­tion-win­ning par­ties to at­tend the con­fer­ence as “po­lit­i­cal par­ties” rather than “ap­pro­pri­ate in­di­vid­u­als” be­cause the lat­ter are not po­lit­i­cal en­ti­ties.

He pro­posed another means of al­lo­cat­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion for the 150 seats af­forded to po­lit­i­cal par­ties, say­ing each reg­is­tered po­lit­i­cal party - to­talling 92 in all - should be given one seat, with the re­main­ing 58 di­vided among elec­tion-win­ning par­ties.

Salai Ngai Sak, chair of the Chin League for Democ­racy, said the gov­ern­ment’s plan has cre­ated con­tro­versy even among non-elec­tion-win­ning par­ties, about 70 of which are be­ing told they will have to find a way to share just five seats.

“Each reg­is­tered po­lit­i­cal party should be given a seat at the ta­ble,” he said.

But po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor U Than Soe Naing said the rep­re­sen­ta­tive frame­work of the Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence was al­ready too sprawl­ing to al­low for gen­uine dis­cus­sions among the var­i­ous stake­hold­ers.

“Los­ing the elec­tion means they do not have an elec­toral man­date. But here, it is not im­por­tant if they are in­vited to the con­fer­ence or not. Po­lit­i­cal par­ties should con­sider whether the con­fer­ence is ac­tu­ally a place where the concerns they raise will be taken se­ri­ously,” he said.

He added, nonethe­less, that the con­fer­ence would be more than just po­lit­i­cal theatre be­cause “no gath­er­ing in the past has been as con­sid­er­ably in­clu­sive and big as the up­com­ing 21stcen­tury Pan­g­long”.

With non-win­ning po­lit­i­cal par­ties con­tin­u­ing to cry foul, the seat-shar­ing ar­range­ment for the 22 elec­tion-win­ning par­ties has al­ready been made, with each party given seven seats.

“I think it is fair be­cause a party that only won one seat in the elec­tion would still have seven seats at the ta­ble. We want equal­ity among the elec­tion-win­ning par­ties,” said U Tun Tun Hein, a Na­tional League for Democ­racy of­fi­cial.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is meet­ing with the eth­nic armed group sig­na­to­ries to the NCA in Nay Pyi Taw to­day.

Photo: EPA

UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon at­tends the East Asia Sum­mit in Nay Pyi Taw in Novem­ber 2014.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.