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February 28, 2018

Better in than out

MASS demonstrations against continuing sporadic skirmishes between the army and ethnic armed groups that have not signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement seem to be heralding an end to Myanmar’s internal armed conflicts, especially along the borders with China and Thailand. It is understandable that the nationwide ceasefire is an essential step in the right direction to bring an end to 60 years of ethnic tensions.
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has called for preparations for the 21st Century Panglong Conference, which is expected to be held in July, promising room for the remaining ethnic armed groups to join the ceasefire. Judging from her words, it is highly likely that the 21st Century Panglong Conference will be more inclusive than the Union Peace Conference held in January 2016.
The army is expected to hold out an olive branch with generosity to the remaining ethnic armed groups, who in return should embrace the offer. It is better to talk than shoot. It is undeniable that all the ethnic communities are eager to enjoy the fruits of peace from the 21st Century Panglong Conference, even if it is like expecting too much too soon. Given the chronic plight of the conflict victims suffering for actions that are not their own, all the stakeholders engaged in the peace process should first find some common ground with the adoption of short-term resolutions with the intention of addressing our country’s long, drawn-out ethnic tensions.


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