UPDJC Secretariat Member U Hla Maung Shwe
To resume the halted official discussions and to continue the implementation of peace process, a group led by Peace Commission (PC) secretary U Khin Zaw Oo went to Thailand, Chang Mai and conducted informal talks with KNU and RCSS that had signed NCA (Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement) and KNPP that hadn’t signed the NCA.
PC secretary and party met with KNU on 13 January, with RCSS on the morning of 14 January and with KNPP on the afternoon of 14 January.
In the informal talks with KNU, RCSS and KNPP the government representatives were PC secretary U Khin Zaw Oo, member U Aung Soe, Ministry of State Counsellor’s Office Director General U Zaw Htay, Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) Secretariat member U Hla Maung Shwe and technical supporter U Kyaw Lin Oo.
Following is an interview conducted with UPDJC Secretariat member U Hla Maung Shwe in Chang Mai.
Q: Let us know the status of the two days meeting with KNU and RCSS that had signed the NCA, and KNPP that hadn’t signed the NCA.
A: We arrived to Chang Mai on the 12th. On the 13th we discussed with KNU representative group and on the 14th we discussed with RCSS and KNPP. It is an informal meeting. The main thing is discuss the necessary to restart the halted official discussions as soon as possible. We came here in November. Compared to that time, this time there is more progress with both KNU and RCSS. We were able to respond to some of their discussions and some will be discussed later. We invited RCSS to come to Nay Pyi Taw for a meeting before the end of this month. RCSS accepted this. RCSS will revert back with the meeting date.
We also told KNU to discuss about participating in official meetings and invited them to come to a meeting in Yangon before the end of this month. They accepted this in principal and will discuss about the date. Therefore there is progress with this two groups.
Q: In the informal meeting with KNU in October, it was said that there’ll be a meeting in end November or December. Did you meet?
A: At that time both KNU and us were busy and there was only an informal meeting with KNU representative Saya Tu Tu Lay in December. In the present meeting we were able to establish trust beyond our expectation. We are able to discuss more. We are happy about this.
Q: What is the status of the informal meeting with KNPP that hadn’t signed the NCA.
A: KNPP had a state level ceasefire in 2012 March. Next step is to get a union level agreement. After that there weren’t huge conflicts but there were some armed engagements. There isn’t any difficulty between KNPP and us on signing the NCA. The only thing is some regional difficulties and some matters that our side had to resolve. KNPP said it had an intention to sign the NCA. They stated this again. The only thing remaining is to sign it. We need to agree and negotiate some remaining points. Therefore, this informal meeting is deemed as successful.
Another thing is the decision made at this meeting to hold at least two peace congresses this year. To achieve more progress arrangements are made to conduct preparation meetings before the end of this month. We’ll discuss this with groups that signed NCA.
Q: What are the difficulties that caused KNU and RCSS to halt official discussions?
A: This was included in their announcement. We are able to discuss point by point on their announcement. We were able to explain that in some points it is not as they thought. For some points we need to coordinate. In some points, we could not commit to agree by ourselves. There are some points that need to be discussed with other groups. We are able to discuss this.
Q: KNU and RCSS are the firmest among those who had signed the NCA so what sort of results will there be on the peace process?
A: NCA was brought along by armed ethnic organizations and if we are to follow the process we need to obtain political agreement. Those agreements will be implemented as Union Accord. As this is according to the NCA guideline, we’ll continue along this way. The difficulty between us is having different definition. As mentioned earlier, we will continue to build trust.
Q: What is the plan of the government on peace process during 2019?
A: 2019 is not the government’s plan. We need to discuss. We’ll strive toward holding two congresses in 2019. This was also discussed already. We’ll need to establish trust here too.
By Ye Khaung Nyunt
(Translated by Zaw Min)