Monday, July 24, 2017

UPNC calls for talks with Govt

The newly formed Wa-led committee of Union Political Negotiation has called on the government and Tatmadaw to have talks before the upcoming second round of the 21st-Century Panglong Conference.

The statement released on May 17 by the committee that is composed of seven armed ethnic organisations that have not signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the government came just one week ahead of the scheduled union peace conference that will start on May 24.

The committee has also urged the government and Tatmadaw not to impose limitations against ethnic people, political parties and ethnic armed organisations so that they can attend the second 21st-Century Panglong Conference.

“In order to hold the Union Peace Conference – second round of 21st-Century Panglong Conference successfully, fighting needs to be stopped. For restoring peace in northern Myanmar, Union Government of Myanmar and the Myanmar Tatmadaw need to talk with the UPNC (led by Wa) as soon as possible,” reads a paragraph of the statement.

The committee also said it was ready and willing to attend the peace conference in Nay Pyi Taw collectively as UPNC, rather than individually.

Formed after having a summit at the end of February in United Wa State Army’s stronghold capital Pangkham, the UPNC has expressed that NCA was ineffective in solving armed conflicts and thus should be replaced with a more justified peace treaty.

Despite UPNC’s call for NCA replacement, peace commission of government on May 6 said in a statement that it would negotiate with the non-signatory groups, sticking to the NCA-based negotiation course. Government’s peace commission and the UPNC have not met since the latter’s formation in late February.

Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC), a tripartite committee of government (including Tatmadaw), political parties and signatory groups, decided last week to invite non-signatory groups as ‘special guests’.

However, U Khun Okkar, patron of Pa-Oh National Liberation Organization (PNLO) said only the groups that sign the NCA “can have the rights to give their consent during discussions and vote in the decision-making process”.

For the groups involved in the United Nationalities Federal Council who have agreed to continue the NCA-based peace negotiation course, the government is planning to sign an agreement of “Deed of Commitment” (DOC) with the groups ahead of the conference.

“I think signing the DOC would allow the groups to take part in the 21st-century Panglong conference. But, only the groups that sign the NCA will have full participant status and rights,” said U Khun Okkar.

The 21st-Century Panglong Conference will be held from May 24 to 29, where the government, Tatmadaw, parliament, political parties, armed ethnic groups (including signatories and non-signatories) and other appropriate individuals will discuss five topics including politics, security, economy, social and land and environmental issues.

Civil society groups will also be invited to the peace conference, said the PNLO official. What role they would be granted in the conference is yet to be revealed by government.

Civil society groups have called for broader civilian inclusiveness of the peace dialogue in a press conference held yesterday after ending a two-day workshop of Civil Society Forum for Peace on May 16.

“We want the supervisory committees of national level dialogues based on ethnicity and regions to allow the groups of civil society, youth, women, indigenous and disabled to have their voices heard based on their specialised sectors,” the statement released read.

It also calls on the committees to inform and coordinate with the groups two weeks ahead of the national level talks and to have regular meetings every two months where civil society representatives can exchange their perspectives with the committees concerning national level talks.

“We also stress and urge that civil society representatives should be allowed to participate in discussions in all sectors,” a representative who appeared at the press conference read the statement out.

Concerning the second round of 21st-Century Panglong Conference, the groups said the results from the conference should be rectified as the Union Accord and should be enacted as soon as it comes out.

The CSOs has also called on parties to the peace dialogue including the government, Tatmadaw and signatory groups, for consultation with experts on sectors and more transparency on dialogue results. They have also asked the government to cooperate with them in providing humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons.