Khun Htun Oo, chairperson for Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), has cancelled plans to attend the Union Peace Conference (also called 21st Century Panglong Conference) because he said it wasn’t inclusive enough.
Sai Leik, a SNLD spokesperson, told SHAN that the chairperson decided not to join after three armed groups--the Arakan Army (AA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA)--were excluded from attending, despite expressing interest in taking part in peace talks in a recent joint statement.
“Our chairman Khun Htun Oo received the proposal by the UNFC to attend it but he has earlier announced that he will not attend and sign anything (at the peace conference) if it is not all-inclusive,” Sai Leik said.
Led by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Union Peace Conference that started today and goes until Sunday is expected to draw 1,800 attendees from members of the government, the Burma Army, ethnic armed groups and civil society.
Sai Leik, who is currently in Naypyidaw, has found that the conference is poorly planned.
“They still haven’t been able to negotiate the sitting plan yet,” he explained.
Regarding the Burma Army, he said that it “doesn’t have a precise policy on peace process” or the willingness to treat “us equally”.
The Burma Army and government told the AA, MNDAA and TNLA that they need to agree to surrender their arms as a precondition for attending the peace conference.
Predictably the three ethnic armed groups have refused to disarm without guarantees from the government or the Burma Army.