The 14th Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) meeting was held at the National Reconciliation and Peace Centre (NRPC) in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday afternoon.
“The door remains open for ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) that are yet to sign the NCA (Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement). For its part, the UPDJC will support and urge these EAOs to sign the NCA,” said Union Minister U Kyaw Tint Swe in his keynote address at the meeting, in his capacity as the Vice-Chairman of UPDJC.
The NCA was signed by the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and Lahu Democratic Union (LDU) in Nay Pyi Taw on 13 February. The two groups were warmly welcomed by UPDJC.
“UPDJC is leading the political dialogues to resolve and end armed conflict in the country, and ending the armed conflict in the country depends on political agreement. As the policy on federal matters can only be laid when political dialogues are successful, UPDJC is in a sector that is very important to keep peace in the union,” he added.
At the 12th UPDJC meeting, the attendees decided the topics to be discussed during the Union Peace Conference-21st Century Panglong 3rd session.
At the 13th UPDJC meeting, political framework, UPDJC ToR, ToR and SOP for national-level political dialogues were discussed, agreed upon and confirmed. Furthermore, everything, except the ToRs and SOPs that still remain to be discussed in the 6th Joint Implementation and Coordination Meeting (JICM), was confirmed. It is expected that the national-level political dialogues will be held successfully within these frameworks, ToRs and SOPs, said the Union Minister.
“Here, I would like to say again what the State Counsellor said during the NCA signing ceremony of the NMSP and LDU. It is to strive towards setting up a firm federal foundation for the forthcoming Union Peace Conference-21st Century Panglong 3rd session,” he added.
“The members of UPDJC are requested to cooperate with trust, build understanding, give and take with one another, and work together towards setting the political stage to achieve a political agreement.”
The Union Minister added that the day’s meeting needs to discuss the holding of national-level political dialogues by the NMSP and RCSS/SSA.
Due to arbitration by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi during the 6th JICM, an agreement was reached for the RCSS/SSA to hold a national-level political dialogue in Langkho. However, the Union Peace Conference-21st Century Panglong 3rd session was not held on the agreed date in the last week of January 2018 and discussions and negotiations are ongoing since then.
“The cancellation of the conference is directly related to UPDJC that is mainly responsible for conducting political dialogues. If political dialogues are delayed, people will lose hope,” he said.
“Everybody must ensure that understanding and trust do not decline when discussions come to a halt,” he noted.
“It is important for political dialogues to continue even if there are differences in our beliefs and views. It is important to meet regularly. The path of meeting and discussions should not be forgotten. We need to make concessions, and give and take to overcome challenges to the political dialogue,” U Kyaw Tint Swe said.
“The State Counsellor has said that being flexible does not mean one is weak. Negotiating is not surrendering. It is important not to fear meetings and discussions. I would like to emphasise that we must minimise matters that divide us and focus on formulating a common agreement,” he said. “I would like to conclude by praying that UPDJC members arrive at a sustainable internal peace plan by holding a political discussion at the round table” the Union Minister added.
Next, UPDJC Vice-Chairman Dr. Salai Lian Hmung Sakhong spoke of being happy and honoured with the NMSP and LDU signing the NCA and participating in the peace process in the country. He invited the EAOs who had not signed the NCA to do so as soon as possible and partake in the development of the country and for peace. He added that UPDJC was an important committee for formulating peace and urged everyone to keep in mind the interest of the whole country rather than their individual organisations.
UPDJC Vice-Chairman U Thu Wai also spoke of the importance of having a strong will for peace.
Later, the meeting agendas were approved, the matter of NMSP and LDU signing the NCA submitted, while the reformation of UPDJC, the reorganisation of the work committees for sector-wise political discussions, and holding of national-level political dialogues and public meetings were discussed.
The attendees at the meeting then gave their suggestions on the discussions after which UPDJC Vice-Chairmen U Thu Wai, Dr. Salai Lian Hmung Sakhong and U Kyaw Tint Swe delivered the concluding speeches.
The meeting was attended by UPDJC members, consisting of representatives from the government group, EAOs that had signed the NCA, political parties and officials. The JICM meeting will continue on 28 February. — Myanmar News Agency