By Nang Mya Nadi
Senior government officials are set to join talks with Shan political parties and civil society groups during an upcoming conference that will address pressing issues as defined by local residents.
Before the conference, fact-finding teams will survey residents in Shan and Kachin states and Sagaing and Mandalay divisions to find out what issues should be discussed at the conference. The conference is being organised by the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) and is expected to take place at the end of this month.
“We wanted to hear the people’s voice, see how they view our parties and what they want to see, and their opinion on the armed groups and the peace process they engage in,” said SNLD spokesperson Sai Lek.
“We are also looking to conduct a public survey concerning the government’s peace process as well – we’ll be sending at least four [survey] teams out.”
SNLD spokesperson Sai Lek and members from the conference’s organising committee said the event will host at least 12 groups including Shan ethnic-based political parties and civil society organisations.
The conference’s creation after President Thein Sein asked the SNLD’s chairman Khun Htun Oo to help support the country’s peace process.
Vice President Sai Mauk Kham, who is an ethnic Shan, and the President’s Office ministers Aung Min and Soe Thein will also attend the conference.
According to Sai Lek, trust between the government and ethnic nationalities is needed before dialogues addressing the country’s political problems can begin.