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The Role of Mon Leaders in Myanmar’s peace process

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Union minister U Aung Min and NMSP vice-chairman Nai Hongsar shaking hands
Union minister U Aung Min and NMSP vice-chairman Nai Hongsar shaking hands
By Baya Hongsar, Canberra, [7 March 2012 (Posted IMNA)] – President U Thein Sein has spoken in a lengthy interview during his tour to Europe with a DVB Journalist, U Khin Maung Win,

broadcasting online in the last week of February. President Sein has landed in Norway as the first point of entry into Europe after his request was denied by the EU Parliament under the sanctions act. This political game is over future investments in Burma/Myanmar.

The Myanmar president spoke eloquently in Burmese but it would be worth his while to speak in english to connect with a wider audience. The message is loud and clear that the president is determined to find a way towards a peaceful nation under this presidency within the next two to three years. After long spell of armed conflict, the nation deserves ‘Peace for All’. This is my sole vision for the country and it’s regions but ultimately, peaceful living for all nations.

Mon State is a small state located in southern Burma skirted by coasts, cut with rivers and abundant in large forests. The state has been in armed conflict between the government and the Mon resistance forces under various names during the past sixty-five years. Mon leaders have sacrificed lives and the Mon population have been in misery for over half of the century. It is time for reflection on the past for a brighter future.

Today, the New Mon State Party, the principal resistance organization to the government over the past sixty five years has again reached a ceasefire agreement in late 2012. This historical, golden hand shake could be interpreted as a sign of peace between two enemies, between two native races.

The All Mon Regions Democracy Party, a newly formed political organization has contested in the last election but won only 17 seats in both union and local parliaments.

The Mon Democratic Party, chaired by veteran Mon politicians, former members of The New Mon State Party and former members of Mon National Democratic Front has legally formed to contest in the next election.

At this point, the elephant is in the room. The Mon people have three major organizations in 2015, either for better or worse. It is the turning point for the Mon national political environment. This is time that the Mon leaders stock take before political trades occur..

The challenge ahead for all political stakeholders in the next 24 months is whether the test of leadership will be on display among all Mon politicians and the old-new generational leaders in politics. In fact, the estimated three millions plus Mon population deserves a stable leadership with a sense of hope for a new political dynamic in modern times. However, in Myanmar’s politics, money talks. All three parties have minimal financial resources and assets on the national campaigning level unlike the UNDP and the NLD. Mon strategic teams would not cope under the pressure from other parties either by money laundering or other means of persuasion in the new democratic transition. Thailand’s election is the case to learn from. An election that is neither clean nor fair, it is merely free.

On the 20th of February, the UNFC delegation including KIO General Secretary Dr La Ja along with leaders from the 11 ethnic armed groups that make up the council held a friendly meeting with Minister U Aung Min, as reported by DVB News Online. Mon Leader, Nai Hongsa is mediating. The groups included the Karen National Union, New Mon State Party, Kachin Independence Organisation, Karenni National Progressive Party and the Chin National Front.

The Mon leaders from all political persuasions, especially the newly formed AMDP and its MPs shall not be underestimated. The next battle is not only winning votes but also securing the right to self-determination for Mon State under the union’s principles. A future Mon State shall be formed under the majority of the Mon parliamentarians. It is a battle of political rights rather than a battle of winning more votes in the next election.

I have observed but regularly communicated with all Mon politicians. Worthy sources from Mon State have informed me well that the merger of the major Mon two parties has not yet reached a reality unless a win-win deal is made. However, in politics, it is a test of skill and leadership. The merger will not guarantee the Mon candidates will be winning 70% of the vote in Mon State and regions.

The bigger picture is here. Top leaders from the New Mon State Party and two other registered parties shall be calling a Mon National Peace Conferences in line with the government’s proposal but strictly ruled out that the Mon National Peace Conference shall be chaired by Mon leaders. However, observers are welcome to attend the conference. The Conference shall be held in Moulmein, the capital city of Mon State.

The conference shall host a proportion of representatives from all Mon political parties, Mon community organizations and Mon Monks council including women and students’ associations. The conference shall be endure two to three days with the key focus on finding a door for lasting peace but with a legal constitutional binding on which the Mon people shall be ruling Mon State and regions where Mon populations reside in the current socio-demography.

The Mon leaders including resistance leaders have been advocating and debating for the plight of the Mon people’s self-determination under the political means in early 1990s. The Mon National Conferences have been held each year in the liberated area ever since. I am again informed by these past leaders over fifteen years that the will of the Mon people shall be respected under the principle of human rights as well as civil and political rights adapted by the United Nations in which Burma has been a member since it’s foundation.

The Mon National Peace Conference shall be supported by the President U Thein Sein led government. This conference shall be laying the foundation of lasting peace in the whole country.

After mistrust through the pages of history with a desire for peace within us, the Peace Process shall be acted locally, nationally and internationally.

A true Union of Burma / Myanmar will be born only when the leaders of the Mon and other ethnic leaders with their own people have stamped the paper saying, ‘A United States of Burma’, under a new constitution and new political system in our own time.

President U Thein Sein shall enjoy peace within but above all, the whole nation shall enjoy it for coming century.

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