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Political talks to be held before 2015 elections

Reported by: > Representatives from government, ethnic armed groups and political parties released a statement at their meeting last Saturday (May 9) at Inya Lake Hotel, Rangoon, wherein they agreed to hold political talks before the 2015 general elections.

In attendance were one hundred and fifty representatives, including union ministers, ethnic affairs ministers and delegates from sixty-four political parties. Additionally, leaders and members of seven ethnic armed groups, members of civil organisations and observers were present at the meeting.

On February 12, 2015, the president and some leaders of ethnic armed groups signed a deed of commitment for peace and national reconciliation. However, that was not intended to overshadow the nationwide ceasefire accord (NCA) rather for the NCA to become strengthened and more productive.

As stated by Karen National Union’s chairman Saw Mutu Say Poe, the meeting [held on February 12] was held to find a way to construct a framework for political talks since it must be implemented, in reality, with the deed of commitment for peace and national reconciliation in mind.

“The political problem must be solved through political discourse and everyone should take part. This is the right technique for establishing democracy and a federal system with self-determination,” said Saw Mutu Say Poe.

Although ethnic armed group leaders have met three times, including the Panghseng conference at the United Wa State Army (UWSA) controlled area, for discussions about nationwide ceasefire accord (NCA) draft, they have not reached the final stage yet.

According to Union Minister U Aung Min, the ethnic armed groups side should not worry, [as] the Article 17(1) of the Unlawful Association Act will be taken out, while the government will also hold talks with ethnic armed groups in which they have engaged in fighting.

“This has been implemented after the president himself provided a signature for peace and national reconciliation. It also concerns political parties and ethnic armed groups, in term of responsibilities, since they are the parties and groups that are willing to labour for harmony and national reconciliation. It’s also believed that they will carry on implementing together [with] nationalistic spirits,” said U Aung Min.

After May 15, the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) will meet with top leaders of ethnic armed groups and they will discuss the draft of a nationwide ceasefire accord (NCA). The meeting will be an opportunity for the groups to fix or add certain points if necessary, according to P’Doh Saw Kweh Htoo Win, a leader of the NCCT.

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