Eight ethnic armed groups that signed a nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) with the Thein Sein government last October are now preparing for the next union peace conference during a five-day political workshop in Rangoon.
“At the first Pyidaungsu Peace Conference there were five main sectors [to be addressed] that were submitted by individual groups [along with] prepared reports. If we analyze those submissions, we see that the Tatmadaw prepared and submitted theirs systematically. But from our side, we were not very prepared,” said Dr. Salai Lian Hmung, Secretary of the union-level Joint Monitoring Committee.
“Now we are discussing the five major sectors during this political workshop: They are politics, social issues, security, natural resource management and the environment, and education. Building on the discussions held during the [first]Pyidaungsu Peace Conference, we are talking about issues in the five sectors,” said U Khun Myint Htun, Chairman of the Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO).
Attendees of the first union peace conference, held on January 12, agreed that future peace process activities would be implemented by the National League for Democracy-led government once it assumed power on April 1st.
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said last month that a 21st Century Panglong Conference would be held in July, but NCA signatories said they remain unclear whether that event would displace the next Pyidaungsu Peace Conference or work in tandem with existing efforts toward national reconciliation.
“On our side, we ethnic armed groups submitted eight priciples of federalism for the political sector. But for the [four] other sectors, we did not get to submit a document. To stop more than six decades of war and to establish a peaceful union, we are holding this workshop to prepare for the establishment of federal union, in accordance with the ethnic groups’ requests,” said Dr. Salai Lian Hmung.
Five representatives from each of the eight signatory groups are participating in the workshop that began on May 18 at the InyaLake Hotel, along with representatives from civil society.
The eight NCA signatories are the Karen National Union, Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA), Karen National Liberation Army-Peace Center, Restoration Council of Shan State, Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO), Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), and All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF).