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 Myanmar Times - - Front Page - SHOON NAING

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.

Photo: Aung Myin Ye Zaw

NLD pa­tron U Tin Oo speaks at a cen­tral com­mitte meet­ing at the party’s Yangon head­quar­ters on Novem­ber 12.

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