The Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) on Monday suspended regional-level discussions involving the Chin National Front (CNF) and the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) in the run-up to the upcoming second 21st-century Panglong Conference.
The decision was lodged on February 6 by UPDJC in Nay Pyi Taw. Following the suspension from the regional-level discussions about policies regarding national-level talks planned the CNF and ALP, the CNF is uncertain if it would join the 21st Century Panglong Conference on February 28.
“If we do not get to hold national political talks, the CNF is not sure it will attend the upcoming [second] 21st century Panglong conference. This is because we must hold this talk first in order to present the matters at the [panglong] conference.” said Dr. Salai Lian Hmung Sakhong, vice-chairman (2) of CNF.CNF had already planned to hold its regional talks after February 20. However, at Monday’s meeting, the UPDJC, which is comprised of ethnic armed groups that signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) with the government, representatives from political parties, central government officials and military officers, decided to put the regional talks on hold due to unstable situation in the Chin State.
“We cannot hold the talks in Chin State yet because the locals can’t accept the liaison office. Therefore, we’ve put these talks on hold. However, this does not mean we won’t hold the talk there. We are working hard to be able to hold talks in every region,” presidential spokesman U Zaw Htay, of the President Office Ministry.
Presidential spokesman U Zaw Htay added that the committee also suspended the talk planned by the ALP due to the current complex political situation in Rakhine State.
November 2016 saw clashes in Rakhine State between Rohingya armed militants and army troops which has forced many residents to flee the region, some into neighbouring Bangladesh.
Although the CNF and ALP, who have also signed the NCA with the government, are not allowed to hold the talks, other ethnic armed groups that inked the NCA have been permitted to hold them in their respective regions in preparation for the upcoming national-level peace conference.
Ethnic-level talk,regarding the national level talks, was already held in Karen State, while regional talk was also held in Tarnintaryi Region.
The committee also allowed talks to be held in Pa-O area and in the area of the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) in Shan State as well as in Bago Region.
Since the CNF and ALP signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA), according to the political talks framework, they could cooperate with respective political parties and hold ethnic based political talks in respective areas.