Leaders of the eight ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) who signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) are holding a five-day political capacity building workshop at the Inya Lake Hotel in Rangoon from 18 to 22 May.
Dr Salai Lian Hmong, secretary of the Union-level Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC-U), said: “Our experience at the first Union Conference was that each group made presentations for the five main topics. Reviewing these presentations we saw that the Tatmadaw [Myanmar Army] was able to make well-planned presentations after having made thorough preparations. We were weak in our preparations.”
A total of 40 people from the eight EAOs, including five leaders from each EAO and representatives of other social organizations and groups have been attending the workshop.
U Khun Myint Tun, the chairman of the Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO), said: “We will discuss the five main topics in this political workshop. We will discuss the main topics of politics, society, security, natural resources and the environment and education. We will discuss based on the experience gained at the previous Union Peace Conference.”
These five main topics were previously discussed by various groups at the first Union Peace Conference held on 12 January held under the previous Thein Sein led administration.
Dr SalaiLian Hmong said: “In the political sector the ethnic armed organisations were able to present the eight basic principles that were based on federalism. We already agreed on these in 2015. As for other topics we were unable to present in an organised way with documents. So, we are holding this [workshop] because we need to make preparations in order to end the civil war that has been raging for over 60 years and establish a peaceful union, which is a federal union demanded by the ethnic people.”
The basic policies agreed on at the first Union Conference were given to the new NLD led Burmese Government and there is agreement that the new government will continue to implement the Union Conferences.
Though the current government should hold the second Union Peace Conference the State Counsellor and NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi previously announced on 27 April that the ‘21st Century Panglong Conference’ will be held within one or two months.
However the NCA signatory groups said it is not clear whether the ‘21st Century Panglong Conference’ will be a replacement for the second Union Peace Conference or a separate conference.
The eight ethnic armed groups that signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement with the previous Thein Sein administration are the Karen National Union (KNU), the Chin National Front (CNF), the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA), the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army-Peace Council (KNU/KNLA-PC), the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA), the Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO), the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) and the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF).