People that have voted for the Aung San Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy (NLD) were almost giving up hope for the amendment of the military-drafted constitution, which has been one of the party’s core campaign promises, including the achievement of peace, when President Htin Kyaw suddenly declared in his January 4, Independence Day message to strive for an emergence of a suitable constitution anchored in democratic principles.
Praising the achievement of the second 21st Century Panglong Conference, he stressed: “As we work on national reconciliation and the peace process, we are working for the emergence of a democratic state based on the principles of freedom for all ethnic national races, justice, equality, and right of self-determination. As we build the Democratic Federal Republic in accordance with the results of the political dialogues, we all need to work collectively for creating a suitable constitution for the country.”
Thus the President in his message also urged the people to implement five national objectives:
Apart from that, President Htin Kyaw stressed and accused the colonial power’s divide-and-rule policy for the ethnic conflict that has been raging since seven decades. But ethnic nationalities said the core of the problem lies with unfulfilled promises of Panglong Agreement and the breaching of the treaty by the successive governments, which is to establish an equitable federal union as envisaged by the founding forefathers, in 1947.
This renewed amendment approach for a more constitutionally suitable one is interpreted as a move in preparation for the 2020 nationwide elections to address the electorate’s concern and to make clear its intention, by dropping all the pretense of “achievement of peace first, constitutional amendment later” appeasement strategy to please the Military or Tatmadaw, to fulfill the NLD’s campaign promises.
Also in a statement released commemorating the anniversary of independence, the ruling NLD party stated that it wouldn’t be swayed from implementing its election promises including ending long-running civil wars, achieving lasting peace and implementing constitutional change.
Regarding the situation, Hkun Okker, leader of the Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO) observed: “The problem could arise between the government and Tatmadaw, due to the policies of government’s utmost involvement in the peace process and the deliberation for the emergence of a (suitable) constitution. These challenges could be seen in the President’s speech and news media quite clearly, which in turn pushes the Tatmadaw to prepare for its defense in its own way.”
According to the 7 Day Daily report of January 8, he further added: “I think, if the Tatmadaw is creating armed conflict situation because of this, it will become quite inconvenient,” which he means, the escalation of war that could derail the peace process.
Parliamentary and Union Accord approaches
The NLD has tried parliamentary approach during the tenure of President Thein Sein and also in 2015 which were not successful as the motions needed to gather more than 75% of the MPs’ vote even to sail through the first proposal.
A vote in the 664-member Pyidaungsu Hluttaw on June 2015 to lower the threshold to 70 percent was supported by 388 MPs, or 66.55 percent of the 583 parliamentarians at the joint sitting.
“I am not surprised with the result,” Aung San Suu Kyi told reporters after the vote. “This makes it very clear that the constitution can never be changed if the military representatives are opposed.”
The NLD looks like that it is aiming at the constitutional amendment through the peace process structured Union Accord, which would serve as the guiding principles for the formation of an acceptable federal union to all stakeholders. But this also hit a snag as only 8 Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) and the rest 13 are left out in the cold, which means leaving 80% of the ethnic fighting forces are not included in the peace process.
The pre-condition is that the EAOs must first sign the NCA before they are allowed to participate in the peace process or 21st Century Panglong Conference.
The NLD appears wanting to abide by all-inclusive participation but has to give in to the Tatmadaw’s demand of excluding the three Northern Alliance – Burma (NA-B) EAO members of Kokang, Palaung or Ta’ang and Arakan, due to its hatred and unreasonable demand to surrender, in order to be permitted to participate in the peace process.
The NLD’s recent bravado is definitely a good move for public consumption, but it is unclear on how it would pull through to achieve its desired result or be able to deliver its campaign promises.
The Parliamentary approach to amend the constitution is not viable, so long as the Tatmadaw sticks to its commitment of defending its self-drawn constitution.
The Union Accord, in principle should be an acceptable way out for all parties concerned if it is all-inclusive, treated the whole peace process as a jointly-owned one, and the Tatmadaw adhere to an equal peace negotiator status, like all the other stakeholders.
Unless the said three pre-conditions are met, the Union Accord thrashed out in the 21st Century Panglong Conference wouldn’t be considered an all-embracing, comprehensive solution for the numerous conflict situation encompassing the country.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
There will always be something or the other to hinder the Peace proces ...
Rohingya issue has shadowed the countries peace process, this is how B ...
This morning I listened to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's speech- I have alrea ...
In Defence of Daw Aung San Suu By following the situation in Burma fo ...
A very fair and timely analysis indeed! ...
2016 Shan Herald Agency for News