Rebels should think care­fully on peace deal: Suu Kyi


Myan­mar’s pop­u­lar op­po­si­tion leader Aung San Suu Kyi is urg­ing armed eth­nic mi­nor­ity groups to think care­fully be­fore sign­ing a na­tion­wide cease-fire agree­ment, a top party col­league said, a po­si­tion that pits her against Pres­i­dent Thein Sein, who has made reach­ing a deal be­fore Novem­ber elec­tions his top pri­or­ity.

Talks be­tween more than a dozen rebel groups and the gov­ern­ment have been held on and off again for more than 18 months.

Win Htein, an ex­ec­u­tive of the op­po­si­tion Na­tional League for Democ­racy, said party leader Suu Kyi ex­pressed her opin­ion at a Satur­day meet­ing with Maj. Htoo Htoo Lay of the Karen Na­tional Union, which has an­nounced it is ready to sign. The KNU is one of the big­ger eth­nic mi­nor­ity groups that have been fight­ing the cen­tral gov­ern­ment for decades to win greater au­ton­omy.

“Suu Kyi said eth­nic groups will have to con­sider not sign­ing the na­tion­wide cease-fire agree­ment be­fore the Nov. 8 gen­eral elec­tion,” he said. “It has to be mean­ing­ful.”

Suu Kyi has so far stayed largely silent on the is­sue. But with elec­tions around the cor­ner and her party widely ex­pected to win a ma­jor­ity of the seats, she has be­gun speak­ing out more on some is­sues. A deal be­fore the elec­tion could boost the prospects of Thein Sein’s rul­ing party, the NLD’s main op­po­nent.

Eth­nic un­rest was long used as an ex­cuse for the army to ex­er­cise con­trol over the coun­try’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, and is a very sen­si­tive is­sue be­cause it re­lates to the na­tion’s unity.

Some of the larger eth­nic par­ties are loosely al­lied with Suu Kyi’s party, shar­ing the per­cep­tion that the mil­i­tary- backed rul­ing Union Sol­i­dar­ity and De­vel­op­ment Party is their an­tag­o­nist.

It is un­likely, how­ever, that Suu Kyi would have much in­flu­ence over the eth­nic group’s po­si­tion on the cease- fire, un­less they be­lieve her party can take power and of­fer a bet­ter deal. The mil­i­tary has veto power over any con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments re­gard­less of the elec­tion out­come, lim­it­ing any ma­jor changes her party might try to make.


Chair­per­son of Na­tional League for Democ­racy (NLD) Aung San Suu Kyi speaks dur­ing an in­ter­view at par­lia­ment in Naypyi­daw, Myan­mar, Tues­day, Aug. 25.

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