By Min Lwin
The President Office’s Minister Aung Min said the government will commence political dialogues in December with the country’s armed ethnic groups who have signed ceasefire agreements.
The minister made the announcement while meeting with representatives from an alliance of 10 political parties on 3 November, said National Democratic Force (NDF) chairman Khin Maung Swe who attended the talks.
“U Aung Min said there is a plan to have a political dialogue with groups that previously made ceasefire agreements – he said he was ready to have the dialogue with the KIO [Kachin Independence Organisation] who have not reached a ceasefire agreement,” said the NDF’s chairman.
Khin Maung Swe said the representatives at the meeting urged the minister to invite ethnic political parties to join the talks as observers.
“There should be transparency for the people [so they] know what the government is doing,” said Khin Maung Swe.
“We suggested the minister to allow observers from political parties; maybe from about three ethnic-based parties and about two mainland-based parties.”
After kick starting a new round of peace talks in the past year with several of the country’s armed groups, the government has continued to push for a three-point plan that favours ceasefires and economic development in conflict zones before addressing potential political solutions that could end the countries numerous civil wars.
However, fighting in Kachin state continues to rage and prominent armed groups like the Karen National Union have been calling for talks centered on political negotiations that would grant ethnic states more political autonomy.
In 1947, Burma’s revolutionary hero Aung San initiated the Panglong Agreement, which was instrumental to settling ethnic disputes in the post-colonial union by adopting a federal system of governance.
However, the agreement was not honoured after the 1962 military coup and the country has been suffering from civil war ever since.