It is a significant sign that the State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi ruled out the policy that the ethnic armed groups that did not sign the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) are also free to participate in the Union Peace Conference. Such an important move is welcomed, according to Nai Hongsar, the vice-chairman of United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC).
The National League for Democracy-led government has planned to convene the Union Peace Conference (21st Century Panglong Conference) in late August, 2016.
“This is happy news for ethnic groups. This is because every ethnic group would like to have their representatives present at the 21st century Panglong Conference. The peace will only be achieved nationwide if everyone can participate,” said Nai Hongsar, who is also the vice-chairman of New Mon State Party (NMSP), in an interview with MNA.
On July 5, at the meeting of State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and preparatory committee for Union Peace Conference held at the Horizon Lake View in Nay Pyi Taw, the state counselor ruled out the policy that all ethnic armed organizations, including the organizations that already inked the NCA and those that did not sign it, are able to participate in the Union Peace Conference.
Furthermore, the policy also granted that the political parties that did not win the 2015 elections and civil society organizations are also permitted to join the August’s conference.
“We are very glad to see that everyone can join the conference. If everything is carried out as planned [for the UPC], it is a good sign for ethnic groups,” said Nai Hongsar.
The State Counselor also stated at the July 5’s meeting that the state counselor would not only work for the reconciliations between the government and ethnic armed groups, but among the ethnic groups themselves, too, according to the post on the Facebook of the State Counselor Office.
On July 1, the representatives of UNFC’s Delegation for Political Negotiation (DPN) and representatives of Preparatory Sub-committee (2) for Union Peace Conference met in Yangon. At the meeting, they both agreed that UNFC’s chairman and State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi would meet in mid-July.
An Ethnic Armed Organization Summit for signatory and non-signatory groups will reportedly be held this month in Mai Ja Yang, Kachin State, to address issues surrounding the upcoming conference.
Of 13 ethnic armed groups that have not yet signed the NCA, 9 groups are members of UNFC. These 9 groups are Kachin Independent Organization (KIO), New Mon State Party (NMSP), Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), Shan State Progressive Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Lahu Democratic Union (LDU), Wa National Organization (WNO), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (Kokang) (MNDAA) and Arakan National Council (ANC).