Peace remains top priority: NLD
As conflict escalates around the country and national dialogues are anticipated to start later this month, the ruling party used its leadership meeting this weekend to reaffirm its number one commitment is to achieve peace.
THE ruling National League for Democracy has reiterated its belief that progress toward peace is key to the country’s success, as party leaders gathered over the weekend for a central committee meeting.
The NLD meet-up on November 12 at the party’s Yangon headquarters brought together regional ministers, the speakers of parliament, central executive committee and central committee members, and regional party heads.
“Our leader [State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi] has said that the only way to reach our goals is through peace progress and we have to continue this progress with a strong desire as well as with strong hopes,” said U Tin Oo, the patron of the NLD, during a speech opening the meeting.
Since the NLD-led government inherited Myanmar’s peace process earlier this year, it staged a mass conference steeped in symbolism but light on substance. The 21st-century Panglong Conference brought representatives from nearly all of Myanmar’s ethnic armed groups, the Tatmadaw, the government and political parties to the table, and was hailed as a landmark event when it convened on August 31.
But the conference was not without its hiccups, including a secondday walkout by the country’s largest non-state army and a failure to secure the participation of all ethnic armed groups.
A second Panglong Conference is expected to be held in February.
In the interim, the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) plans to hold a series of nationallevel political dialogues at the state and region levels to discuss a range of issues tied to the overall peace process.
Ethnic armed groups that have not yet signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement must join the accord if they wish to participate in the dialogue phase of the process, however, as concerns over inclusivity continue to pose a challenge to the NLD’s peace push.
Both the government and the military see the NCA as the peace process’ foundational document, but just eight non-state armed groups have signed on to the accord thus far. The previous government’s decision to exclude some ethnic armed groups from negotiations was cited by several of the abstainers.
Meanwhile clashes between the Tatmadaw and multiple ethnic armed groups have continued in the wake of the ceasefire’s signing, most recently pitting the military against the Ta’ang National Liberation Army in Shan State.
At the weekend meeting, U Tin Oo also told party members that the establishment of a democratic federal Union would be rooted in both diversity and unity.
“During a meeting with the ethnic representative parliamentarians, our leader has said that unity is the important thing in order to establish a democratic federal Union based on diversity,” he said.
To further the creation of a federal Union, U Tin Oo told the gathered NLD members to act with the best of intentions and follow the guidance of party leaders, as well as to earn the trust of the people.
U Win Htein, a senior NLD central executive committee member, said development issues were also discussed with regional party leaders during the meeting.
“The party central committee meeting is supposed to be held every six months, but it had not been doing so. That is why the party decided to take the time to hold this meeting,” he said.
The November 12 meeting was the NLD central committee’s sixth, but the first since the party took power following its November 2015 election triumph.
In a report last month that offered both praise and criticism for the NLD’s handling of the peace process to date, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said, “The current government term may be the best chance for a negotiated political settlement to almost 70 years of armed conflict that has devastated the lives of minority communities and held back Myanmar as a whole.”
Among other suggestions, the report said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s government should consider being more flexible and avoid setting rigid timelines for ethnic armed groups to meet. It cited the “extremely tight” window to prepare for the next Panglong Conference as one example.
NLD patron U Tin Oo speaks at a central committe meeting at the party’s Yangon headquarters on November 12.