Every man is my superior in some way
In that I learn from him.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
The meeting is the first since 9-10 October 2017 which was held in preparation for the ceremony to be held in Naypyitaw on 15 October 2017 in commemoration of the NCA signing two years earlier.
Following the ceremony, the signatory negotiators had conducted a series of meetings with the government-Tatmadaw side:
16 October – Informal with Tatmadaw Commander in Chief and the State Counselor
25-26 October – Joint review of NCA Implementation
28-29 October – UPDJC Working Committee
30-31 October – UPDJC
The 16th PPST meeting was held, as I see it, for 3 Rs:
Day One. Tuesday, 14 November 2017
International law recognizes the claim to self-determination only in cases of colonialism, foreign invasion or gross discrimination and abuse of human rights.
The Economist, 23 September 2017
The meeting is opened by Gen Mutu Saypoe, leader of the PPST at 09:15. The draft agenda is then read out, revised and approved by the meeting.
Gen Mutu Saypoe delivering opening speech of the 16th PPST meeting, 14 November 2017 (Photo: NMG)
The first item is about the informal meeting between the PPST and the Tatmadaw CinC and later the State Counselor on 16 October.
This is the first time the author has received the firsthand account by one leader who was there. (What was written in the journal To Hopeland and Back: The 33rd trip came from media reports.
Meeting with CinC
N.B The PPST has not proposed the revision of the text. But it wants to be sure every term (and phrase) there is interpreted one and the same by both sides
Meeting with State Counselor
Commenting on this, a PPST member says:
“Time is on the Tatmadaw’s side. While the State Counselor wants the Pyidaungsu Accord (Union Accord) to be signed before the next elections in 2020, the Tatmadaw can afford to wait. Also it is riding high on popular support over the Rakhine crisis to care much about non-Burmans.”
The next item is on the NCA implementation review:
On the UPDJC meeting
On the JMC meetings
On “ungentlemanly” diplomacy
The day ends with news from the UNFC meeting held at another hotel.
The meeting decides not to succumb to the military’s stand on its remaining Point#2 proposal that the union should be a federal democracy.
The military meanwhile maintains that nothing should override the NCA’s Paragraph 1 (a):
Establish a union based on the principles of democracy and federalism in accordance with the outcomes of political dialogue and in the spirit of Panglong, that fully guarantees democratic rights, national equality and the right to self-determination on the basis of liberty, equality and justice while upholding the principles of non-disintegration of the union, non-disintegration of national solidarity and perpetuation of national sovereignly.
The NCA became a law after it was adopted without objection by the union parliament on 8 December 2015, almost 2 months after its signing.
But accusations appear to be unavoidable. One UNFC member, upon my inquiry, says:
In March, we had reached ‘agreement on principle’ in all the 8 points. But in April, some points had to be re-negotiated and a military delegate accused us of ‘moving the goalposts (so the footballer cannot score a goal)’. Now it seems they are doing what they have been accusing us all along. During the 7th meeting, we had agreed on all points except Point #5. At the 8th meeting, we were able to reach agreement on it. But then the military came up with its opposition to Point #2, to which it had no objection during the 7th meeting.
I leave it to the reader to dig in further and make up his/her own mind.
Day Two. Wednesday, 15 November 2017
Democracy requires consensus as well as the rule of law. Constitutional change, especially the right to break away, should be difficult — but not impossible.
I have nothing much to say about the proceedings of the meeting today, except that, as seen again and again, some topics, which we consider are going to be tough nuts to crack, do not in fact take much time to reach decisions, but others that we regard as easy ones, take longer.
However, one item that cannot be left out is on the UNFC that is due to hold the 9th round of negotiations with the government tomorrow.
Here are selected excerpts from the meeting’s discussions:
PPST member at the meeting: (left to right) Hkun Okker, Khaing Soe Naing Aung, Comrade Than Khe, and Dr Lian Hmung Sakhong (who came in Pu Zing Cung’s stead) (Photo: EAO)
By the end of the day, a 15 point resolution was reached by the meeting. Here are some of them:
Comrade Myo Win, Salai Thla Hei and Saw Kwe Htoo Win, coordinators for the meeting (Photo: EAO)
The closing remarks were delivered by Gen Yawd Serk:
Gen Yawd Serk delivering closing speech (Photo: Mizzima)
It is already 18:40 when it ends.
Then comes the news from Yangon:
The scheduled 9th meeting between the DPN and PC tomorrow is postponed.
Instead the two sides will meet informally in order to find ways and means to reach agreement.
I hope they find it.
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