Participants at the Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) Summit scheduled to be held in Mai Ja Yang, Kachin State, have agreed to focus primarily on a four-point agenda namely building a federal union, politics, the military and the interpretation of Panglong.
The decision was announced at a 3-day meeting of the eight Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) signatory EAOs held in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
PadohKwe Htoo Win from the Karen National Union (KNU) told reporters, “There are four main agenda items at Mai Ja Yang. The first is political affairs, attitudes on how to build our federal union. The next agenda item is security affairs, how to defend our country. The next agenda item is the political framework. Our NCA-signatory EAOs reviewed this framework after signing the NCA. We will discuss this at the meeting, which parts of the NCA should be changed and modified.”
“Panglong and Panglong agreement are interpreted in different ways. When the State Counsellor used the term ‘21st century Panglong Conference’, people criticised it. We will find common ground on this term by inviting scholars and academics and then it will be approved at the scheduled plenary meeting and we will let our position be known to the people,” he added.
PadohKwe Htoo Win also said that they would submit a paper containing five points on politics and military affairs including the political framework at the scheduled Union Peace Convention or 21st Century Panglong Conference.
“We will discuss five main points at the convention. One of them will be a review of the political framework, which points will be discussed at which stage. Most of them will be in the Civil Society Organizations sector. While political affairs, constitutional affairs, union defence and security affairs will be discussed at the national level rather than ethnic and regional levels. But we have not yet got confirmation on these matters,” he added.
He further said that these deliberations and preparations were subject to approval by the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC).
Col. KhunOkkar from Palaung National Liberation Organization (PNLO) said that at the 3-day meeting, the eight NCA-signatory EAOs made preparations for submitting a paper to Union Peace Convention (21st Century Panglong Conference) becuase NCA commitments and obligations need to focus on the political sector and building a federal union.
“The forthcoming convention will be held for the first time under the leadership of a new government. They will lay the foundation for political dialogue similar to what President Thein Sein’s government did. There are two main topics in this foundation. One is the political sector and building a federal union. So we need to discuss federal systems. And another most important matter is the nation’s security sector. In the tradition of our country, the armed forces are deemed to be primarily responsible for security so we need to discuss what is to be done on security sector reform and how it will adapt to a federal union.”
Col. KhunOkkar added that convening the Union Peace Convention is included as step 4 of the NCA so that carrying out this step is in accordance with the NCA. He said that they hoped they would reach the political dialogue stage by stopping armed conflict as their political goal was to enter political dialogue to resolve conflict.
He went on to say that the eight NCA-signatory EAOs would hold a separate conference after the Mai Ja Yang plenary meeting and before the Union Peace Convention scheduled to be held at the end of August 2016.
A statement issued on July 20 after the meeting says that the eight NCA-signatory EAOs will attend Mai Ja Yang plenary meeting of all EAOs and they will try and coordinate with political forces, government and Tatmadaw (government’s defence services) until they reach an agreement on building internal peace in the country and building a federal union.
Over 40 delegates attended the 3-day meeting.