First po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue to con­vene in Novem­ber

The state coun­sel­lor has called for the na­tional-level di­a­logues to start as soon as pos­si­ble, with next month’s ‘pi­lot project’ to di­vide talks into re­gion-, eth­nic- and topic-based groups.

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - PYAE THET PHYO pyae­thet­phyo@mm­times.com – Trans­la­tion by Thiri Min Htun

STATE Coun­sel­lor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in­tends to con­vene the first “na­tional-level po­lit­i­cal di­a­logues” as early as next month.

Speak­ing at the first day of a Union Peace Di­a­logue Joint Com­mit­tee (UPDJC) meet­ing in Nay Pyi Taw on October 28, she de­scribed the ini­tial di­a­logues as a “pi­lot project” that will break na­tional-level talks down into three groups – re­gion-, eth­nic- and topic-based.

“As a pi­lot project, I’d like to start the three na­tional-level po­lit­i­cal talks as soon as pos­si­ble ... I’d like as much as pos­si­ble to hold them in Novem­ber. After th­ese di­a­logues, we can see the weak­nesses and chal­lenges and can de­cide what we should do to en­sure suc­cess,” said the state coun­sel­lor, who also serves as UPDJC chair.

“It is not pos­si­ble to hold po­lit­i­cal talks across Myan­mar at the same time be­cause we face chal­lenges of prac­ti­cal­ity. So we need to search for a so­lu­tion on how to over­come th­ese chal­lenges,” she added.

She said the “pi­lot project” ap­proach, more limited in scope, would al­low for a more ef­fec­tive as­sess­ment of the pros and cons of the process.

Di­a­logues based on eth­nic af­fairs, top­ics and re­gions will be held in Kayin State, Nay Pyi Taw and Thanintharyi Re­gion, re­spec­tively.

Ne­go­tia­tors ear­lier this month nar­rowed down the lists of ac­cept­able top­ics to pol­i­tics, eco­nomics, so­cial fac­tors, se­cu­rity, and land and en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues.

“We agreed to start di­a­logues as soon as pos­si­ble where they can be,” said Salai Lian Hmung Sakhong, vice chair of the Chin Na­tional Front, who at­tended the UPDJC meet­ing.

Though amend­ing the con­sti­tu­tion is not an ex­plicit agenda item, the na­tional-level di­a­logues will touch on the is­sue in­di­rectly via broader talks about es­tab­lish­ing a demo­cratic, fed­eral sys­tem of gov­ern­ment.

“It is not aimed at di­rectly amend­ing the con­sti­tu­tion,” Salai Lian Hmung Sakhong told The Myan­mar Times after the sec­ond day of the UPDJC meet­ing on October 29.

He added that the mat­ters dis­cussed at the na­tional-level po­lit­i­cal di­a­logues will then be taken up at a fu­ture UPDJC meet­ing, with ar­eas of agree­ment and points of con­tention to be com­piled and sub­mit­ted to a Union Peace Con­fer­ence slated for Fe­bru­ary 2017.

“We can sign a Union-level agree­ment after con­sen­sus is reached at in the Union Peace Con­fer­ence. The Pyi­daungsu Hlut­taw will ap­prove the agree­ment. After that, we will pro­ceed to dis­cuss amend­ing the 2008 con­sti­tu­tion,” Salai Lian Hmung Sakhong said, de­scrib­ing a process laid out in the frame­work for po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue drafted by the UPDJC.

“Su­per­vi­sory com­mit­tees” will be formed to over­see the process, he said.

“Su­per­vi­sory com­mit­tees will be formed with rel­e­vant [rep­re­sen­ta­tives of] re­gional gov­ern­ment, par­lia­ment, the Tat­madaw, eth­nic armed groups and po­lit­i­cal par­ties. We have agreed to form the su­per­vi­sory com­mit­tee with three mem­bers from each group in a re­gion or state,” he said.

At present, those el­i­gi­ble to par­tic­i­pate in the na­tional-level po­lit­i­cal di­a­logues in­clude rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the gov­ern­ment, par­lia­ment, the Tat­madaw, eth­nic armed groups party to the na­tion­wide cease­fire agree­ment, po­lit­i­cal par­ties, eth­nic rep­re­sen­ta­tives and civil so­ci­ety groups.

Eth­nic politi­cians last week ex­pressed con­cern that NCA non-sig­na­to­ries would not be in­cluded in the na­tional-level talks. Num­ber­ing about a dozen, th­ese groups are some of the na­tion’s largest eth­nic fight­ing forces and by one es­ti­mate ac­count for up to four-fifths of all eth­nic armed com­bat­ants in Myan­mar.

Photo: Pyae Thet Phyo

State Coun­sel­lor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at­tends the Union Peace Di­a­logue Joint Com­mit­tee in Nay Pyi Taw.

Photo: Pyae Thet Phyo

State Coun­sel­lor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi leaves the Union Peace Di­a­logue Joint Com­mit­tee in Nay Pyi Taw on October 28.

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