Successive governments have endeavoured to restore peace through a series of talks with ethnic armed groups for over half a decade. But peace remains frustratingly elusive for some reason, which is overshadowing the political reforms designed to bring about national development.
Typically, we tend to cite unity as a strength. Despite this, we still fail to integrate this reality into our actions. We have heard stories of conflicting parties trading blame with each other rather than coming together to find some common ground for mutual benefit. Strange as it may seem, the groups involved in the
disagreement share the
same goal, which is national development. Even then, they fail to reach a consensus about peace.
A conclusion can be made from such a standstill. Unity cannot be built on distrust and suspicion. Unity is something that has to be built through a constructive dialogue that favours mutual respect, mutual understanding and mutual trust among individual groups. Peace is not the mere absence of conflict. It is in fact a product of successful negotiation. In other words, the end of division is the start of reconciliation. Peace is a definite plus in national development, after all.
With the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference approaching, all the stakeholders in the peace process should adopt a “we agree to compromise” attitude rather than a “we agree to disagree” attitude with the intention of possible risk of lapsing or relapsing into conflict. No negotiation has ever proved productive in the absence of compromise.
It is therefore necessary to create space for a wider set of peace actors and comprise a wider set of activities that can satisfy the specific needs of national reconciliation. The truth is that citizens win when individual stakeholders start to collaborate at this crucial juncture of national reconciliation for national development.