Recently, Mon News Agency’s reporter Chit Min Htun interviewed Sai Kyaw Nyunt, the joint-secretary (1) of Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC). Currently, contention surrounds whether non-NCA signed ethnic armed groups will hold the upcoming national political talks in their region. The interview covered these upcoming talks, the differences within the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC)’s road-map and the UPDJC’s policy.
Mon News Agency (MNA): The UPDJC is preparing to hold national level political talks. In which region will the first talk be held and how will it be held?
Sai Kyaw Nyunt: The UPDJC agreement stated that of the regions where ethnic armed groups sign the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA), the talk will be held in the region is that prepared for it. However, this must be followed with three UPDJC vice-chairpersons and the UPDJC’s secretary. The national level political talks are divided into three categories; ethnic-based, region-based and topic-based talks.
MNA: The ethnic armed groups that avoided signing the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) are not allowed to hold the national level talks, so what cooperation should be made in order to able to hold talks in their regions?
Sai Kyaw Nyunt: The government disagrees that the ethnic armed groups that have not signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) should lead the national level talks. Therefore, what I want to suggest is that the government, the UNFC and other non-NCA groups must hold meetings as fast as possible until the agreement is reached. Then, there won’t be a question on which regions are eligible for the national level political talks.
MNA: Due to the fact that there are non-NCA signatory groups, do you believe it is acceptable that there are these political talks and NCA agreement implementation? What difficulty do you see in this regard?
Sai Kyaw Nyunt: It’s just a dream to believe we can get a complete result from the talks, given that it is incomplete and parties are absent.
MNA: In the framework of political talks, it states that it strives to have a 30% women participation rate in the political talks. But in reality, women’s participation in the talks is less than that. How will UPDJC help to have women involved?
Sai Kyaw Nyunt: It [UPDJC] has extensively advised the respective groups to help work and secure that percentage.
MNA: In the NCA text, there are no points regarding punishment or charges if one breaks the rules. Why is this absent? Could you explain the charges potentially faced by those who break the rules of the agreement?
Sai Kyaw Nyunt: In regards to the inquiry of the armed conflicts, the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) has a verification team aimed at solving and charging those for minor and major violations. However, the problem lies in its power because only a powerful group can decide. Furthermore, it is necessary to have a powerful and impartial third-party group who find solutions equally and fairly.
MNA: Now, the UNFC is requesting [for] 8 points. It will sign the NCA if the government complies. However, some points create real problems for the government. Do you think it will work out if the government negotiates with it?
Sai Kyaw Nyunt: The difficulty that we are having in negotiations with the UNFC is, this also includes the Tatmadaw and all ethnic armed groups, the ability to announce the ceasefire. Is it a problem to announce ceasefire only after signing the NCA? It will be alright if they just negotiate. Another problem is having mediating groups such as international organizations involved. This includes [in] the JMC. It is wrong. It is necessary to discuss whether international mediating organizations should be involved or not. The government and the UNFC must hold meetings and negotiate often. In addition to negotiations, it is also necessary to stop the ongoing armed conflicts. That is what I want to advise.
MNA: Some people said that the NCA’s roadmap is different from that of the government’s released 7-point policy at the anniversary conference of the NCA inking. Others say they are identical. What do you think?
Sai Kyaw Nyunt: The roadmap of the NCA text included points on the implementation of the Pyidaungsu [union] agreement. The NCA policy also covers the establishment of the Pyidaungsu, that is based on the democratic and federal system, through the outcomes of political talks. Of the government’s released 7-point policy at the anniversary of the NCA inking conference, the number 5, 6 and 7 stated that the constitution will be amended in accordance with the Pyidaungsu agreement text. The election will be also held in accordance with the constitutional law. It stated clear policy for establishing the democratic federal Pyidaungsu. The NCA does not state it clearly. The government’s policy stated it clearly. That is the big difference.