The Nationalities Brotherhood Federation (NBF) is urging the inclusion of all registered ethnic political parties in the upcoming 21st Century Panglong Conference, in accordance with provisions of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) signed last October.
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said at a recent meeting with members of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) that only political parties that won at least one parliamentary seat in the 2015 general elections would be represented at the conference. Excluding party members who were not successful in the election violates the NCA, according to a statement released by the NBF on May 31.
“[The NCA] states that every political party has the right to join. Now if only election-winning parties are selected to attend, this violates the NCA agreement,” said Nai Chan Toy, vice-chairman of the All Mon Regions Democracy Party (AMDP).
The NBF is comprised of around 20 ethnic political parties including the Chin National Party, Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, Ta’ang National Party, AMDP, Pa O National Front, Phalon-swaw Democratic Party, and Shan Nationalities Democratic Party.
“The UPDJC was formed through a voting process. At the time, there were over 90 political parties. So let’s say maybe it is a lot of parties and [the government does] not like that. It is another thing if the winning parties have the chance to elect representatives through voting, then the parties can choose for themselves. But now the government is making the selections, so it seems that the political parties cannot decide their own fate,” said Nai Chan Toy.
According to the NCA document signed by the previous Thein Sein government and eight ethnic armed groups, a framework for political dialogue had to be drawn up within 60 days of signing. The UPDJC was founded the following day to organize political dialogue within 90 days.
According to Chapter 5, section 22(a), of the NCA:
a. Representatives from the government, Hluttaws, Tatmadaw, representatives from the Ethnic Armed Organizations, representatives from registered political parties, ethnic representatives and other relevant representatives shall participate in political dialogue that is based on an all-inclusive principle.
Representatives from 20 out of 23 registered ethnic political parties attended the NBF’s 26th regular conference at Orchid Hotel on May 30 and 31 and jointly released the 4-point statement.