Simultaneously shortly after the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA)-signatory Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) doled out a statement to postpone the 21st Century Panglong Conference (21CPC), scheduled to start at the end of the month, due to the Tatmadaw’s blocking and prohibiting the Shan national-level political dialogue or consultation with public and the demand of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) that the 21CPC be postponed, some leaders of the signatory EAOs came up with the explanation on what it is all about.
“We have agreed to discuss with the government and the Tatmadaw because we need to reach an agreement with both sides to overcome this issue. We will try to meet with them as soon as we can,” said P’doh Saw Kwel Htoo Win, Vice-chairman of the Karen National Union (KNU).
Touching on the same issue, Daw Saw Mra Razar Lin, member of the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP)’s central executive committee, said that they were not trying to stop the 21CPC but only the postponement to clear out the differences regarding the interpretation of the NCA-based peace process by the government-military and the signatory EAOs.
“It’s important for us to walk on the same path for the NCA. It’s important for both the government and we to have clear understandings on the NCA. We need to be patient in discussing with the government and look forward to the interest of our country and its people,” said Daw Saw Mra Razar Lin.
The 8 signatory EAOs’ Peace Process Steering Team (PPST) four-point statement of January 12 stated, postponement of the 21CPC; negotiated settlement on national-level political dialogue or consultation; informal discussions on how outstanding issues should be carried out successfully; and further discussion on implementation and understanding of the NCA.
On January 14, Zaw Htay, Director General of the State Counselor’s Office and also Director of the Union Peace Realization said due to some unresolved issues, the 21CPC could be rescheduled.
Regarding the issue he said: “The postponement of the conference (21CPC) has not officially being tabled. If they (signatory EAOs) do it officially we will have to adjust to it.”
Sai Kyaw Nyunt, General Secretary of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) for political parties sector said: “The 21CPC would be hard to convene due to various circumstances.”
He further stressed: “The situation is like this. The understanding of national-level political dialogue (NPD) between the EAOs and the government-military is different. Because of this, the argument of it (the NPD) should be carried out or not lead to the conflict. Regarding NCA and peace both sides should have resolved agreement. If not, the peace process could slow down.”
In addition to this, as if to be even-handed, the government blocked some of the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF) public consultation efforts in the Regions, while allowing to convene in some places.
Meanwhile, the signatory EAOs are sending feelers to the Burma from their base in Chiang Mai to find out the real mood of the government and Tatmadaw in the aftermath of their resolution to postponed the 21CPC.
The United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), which is trying to work out a compromise with the government in order to sign the NCA without success so far, could not also secure meetings with the State Counselor and the Commander-in-Chief, which it has requested since a few weeks ago. Hopefully, the signatory EAOs won’t face such a cold shoulder response like the UNFC. Otherwise, the polarization between the signatories and the government-military would increase.
The 8 signatory EAOs are: the Karen National Union (KNU), the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army – Peace Council (KNU/KNLA – PC), the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA), the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan Shan Army – South (RCSS/SSA-S), the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF), the Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO), the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), and the Chin National Front (CNF), which have signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement in October 2015.
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