Nai Htaw Mon, the chairman of New Mon State Party (NMSP) discusses NMSP’s plan for inking the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), particularly after the new government transfers to power. He also reveals the reasons behind NMSP’s avoidance of the NCA inking, their
absence at the union peace conference as well as why and how the constitution should be amended with NMSP’s recommendations.
MNA: I would like to know whether the NMSP is planning to ink the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).
Nai Mon Htaw: NMSP will sign the NCA if the government invites all ethnic armed groups to the NCA inking. The problem is that the government did not accept an all-inclusive NCA. The government invited some ethnic groups to the NCA inking while leaving out some other groups. So, the NMSP did not sign it. Like the NMSP, the members of the United Nationalities Federation Council (UNFC) did not sign. In the view of the UNFC, every ethnic armed group should be involved in the NCA inking since it’s a “Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement”. Otherwise, it is not nationwide.
MNA: What do you think of the outcomes of the NCA inking with 8 ethnic armed groups?
Nai Mon Htaw: The Government already signed the NCA with eight ethnic armed groups, and it is now working for peace. However, we, the NMSP, think it is not completely successful. So, genuine peace will not be achieved in the country, and currently the Tatmadaw troops are still launching attacks in ethnic areas.
MNA: Have the NMSP already planned to participate in the NCA signing?
Nai Mon Htaw: We have planned to. This also included the view from the UNFC. Our view is same as the UNFC’s. We will sign the NCA when the new government takes the office. We will also work toward participating in political talks as well as achieving true peace for the entire country. The outgoing government signed with only eight ethnic armed groups and now is finishing its term. So, we will sign the NCA when the new government runs the office.
MNA: Why were the NMSP absent at the union peace conference held on January 12?
Nai Htaw Mon: It is not good for us to participate in the conference since not every organization was present. If we joined, we would be just special guests. It’s nothing since we did not get to talk at the conference. The UNFC also decided against the 3 points. Point 1; it is not all-inclusive in the NCA inking, [so, it does not work]. Point 2, the ethnic armed groups that did not sign the NCA, would be announced as unlawful associations, and Point 3, the union peace conference is to discuss the future of the country. However, the agenda for political discourse that they agreed upon is not the same as ours. So, with these 3 points, we, the members of the UNFC, did not participate in the conference. And, we, the NMSP, also did not join the conference.
MNA: What do you think of the imminent new government?
Nai Mon Htaw: The new government is from a democratic party. Our country was governed by the military and the country did not have freedom, while the people were also poor. If I speak in a positive light, it will be good if the new government is from a democratic party. But, in my opinion, it won’t be achieved yet like we want it to.
MNA: Could you please explain what you meant by it won’t be achieved yet like we want it to?
Nai Mon Htaw: The Tatmadaw is still completely dominating the 2008 constitution. The constitution is still left under the Tatmadaw dominance. Because of that, the NLD government is yet do whatever it wants to. This is because it is just not easy for them to do as they want. We are unsure how the NLD government will negotiate with the Tatmadaw. It all depends on the NLD and the Tatmadaw in regards to how much they can negotiate. But in my point of view, if the 2008 constitution is not amended, it is just difficult to have the country in the public’s wishes.
MNA: How have NMSP planned to amend the 2008 Constitution?
Nai Mon Htaw: We have to amend the constitution. If we did not amend it, we won’t achieve the democracy and rights for ethnic nationalities. The technique that we will use to amend the constitution is not to just amend at it the Hluttaw [Parliament]. This is because the Tatmadaw makes up 25% at the Hluttaw. So, we should amend it not only at the Hluttaw but outside the Hluttaw as well. These two have to be connected and this can only change if these two act, together. We also have to work hard to change this. That is what we believe and plan to do. Then, the change can occur, and we can achieve democracy and equal rights for ethnic nationalities, as the public desires for.
MNA: NMSP said it would work toward amending the 2008 Constitution, so how will it do that?
Nai Mon Htaw: For us, we will work hard. Then, we will be able to amend, and once it is amended, the democracy and rights for ethnic nationalities will be achieved. That is how NMSP sees it. When I said “work hard”, I meant not only the resistance armed groups but those of at the Hluttaw [Parliament] and outside the Hluttaw.