Myanmar’s Peace Body Wants Armed Groups to Meet With Aung Sang Suu Kyi, Military Chief

Myanmar’s Peace Commission wants government officials, military officers, and ethnic armed groups that have signed the country’s nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) to meet with top national leaders on Oct. 15 to iron out unresolved issues in the slow-moving peace process, a leader from one of the organizations said Wednesday.

Peace commission chairman Tin Myo Win held a two-day preliminary meeting with representatives from the armed forces and ethnic armies on Oct. 1-2 at the National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC) in Yangon to discuss a larger meeting that would include government and military leaders.

Myo Win, vice president of the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF) � one of the 10 groups that has signed the NCA � and no relation to Tin Myo Win, told RFA’s Myanmar Service that the commission wants State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, military commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and decision-makers from the ethnic armed groups to participate in the meeting.

We want the most responsible leaders to attend the Oct. 15 meeting because they have to work together to solve the problems, he said.

These leaders need to write instructions and policies for future political dialogues, so we should try to have it, Myo Win said.

He also said that Myanmar’s peace process has been hurt both by the situation in Rakhine state and by many other difficulties and challenges, though he did not mention specific ones.

The international community and rights groups have condemned the Myanmar government and security forces for a brutal crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in northern Rakhine last August, with a United Nations fact-finding commission in September accusing the military of genocide and calling for the prosecution of top commanders for a campaign that drove more than 700,000 Rohingya into neighboring Bangladesh.

At a summit in northern Thailand in September, representatives from the 10 NCA-signatory groups issued a statement saying that they would continue efforts to engage in talks with the national military and the government about federal policies, such as holding further rounds of key peace negotiations.

They also said they would continue pushing for a federal democratic union in Myanmar, under which ethnic minority groups have rights equal to those of the Burman majority.

Aung San Suu Kyi began the peace initiative, known as the 21st-Century Panglong Conference, in August 2016 in a bid to end seven decades of civil war and forge a democratic federal union through negotiations.

During the third round of the peace talks in July, she called for a new strategic vision to build a peace framework to end the hostilities, which have ravaged Myanmar’s ethnic minority-populated border regions and driven tens of thousands of civilians from their homes.

To date, the parties to the talks have agreed on 51 basic principles involving the political sector, the economy, and land matters, but they have yet to reach an accord on the security sector.

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