Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has set a 2018 deadline for drawing the hotly contested fault lines of ethnic political autonomy in Myanmar’s future federal Union.The state counsellor instructed the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) to strive toward completing the foundational principles underpinning the federal Union during her keynote speech at the tripartite bloc’s 12th meeting on October 30. The UPDJC is comprised of representatives from the government, the ethnic armed groups and political parties.
“Starting from today, we must aim to complete laying down the basic principles for a federal Union in 2018,” said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
She urged all sides to cooperate in order to achieve the deadline.
“We will only have a better future for the next generation in Myanmar once this aim is achieved. The end of internal armed conflicts depends on securing political agreements,” she added.
Myanmar’s ethnic groups have long struggled to gain greater political roles and to secure the right to administer their enclaves.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has come under fire for making little headway in resolving the centuries-old gripes which have spilled into deadly clashes. No additional groups have joined the ceasefire established by her predecessor, and several ethnic leaders have expressed frustrations over the lack of negotiations and meetings. The state counsellor has called for patience as her 18-month-old cabinet finds its footing and wades through several crises.
Ethnic Armed Organization (EAO) – UPDJC leader Salai Lian Hmung urged leaders to hold national-level political dialogues, especially in the RCSS (Restoration Council of Shan State) and the ALP (Arakan Liberation Party) areas, where dialogues have so far faced authorization stumbling blocks. Only groups that have signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement are permitted to hold the national-level political dialogues, which are intended to collate local opinion and outlooks on the federal process.
The state counsellor also called on the UPDJC to decide topics, venues and papers for the upcoming third session of the Union Peace Conference, also known as the 21st Century Panglong Conference.
The UPDJC has additionally been tasked with reviewing and amending the framework for political dialogue and amending the Terms of Reference (ToR) for the political dialogues, and to draw up the standard operating procedure (SOP) to implement the agreements effectively.