No debate, decisions at Panglong conference


NAY PYI TAW — No decisions will be made at the 21st Century Panglong conference, negotiators said on Monday, after they conceded that there was not enough time to make the necessary changes to the political dialogue framework.

Members of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee agreed at a meeting in Nay Pyi Taw on August 15 that the meeting would be all-inclusive, with all ethnic armed groups allowed to attend. Participants will focus on presenting their respective policies, UPDJC members told Frontier.

“It will be held according to the principle of all-inclusiveness. Each party can present its own policy but there won’t be any discussion or decisions made,” said Pado Saw Kwe Htoo Win, a deputy chairman of the UPDJC representing ethnic armed groups.

Earlier this month, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi set August 31 as the deadline for the start of the Panglong conference. However, negotiations have continued over which groups will be allowed – or willing – to participate.

Support more independent journalism like this. Sign up to be a Frontier member.

In 2015, the Tatmadaw had blocked three ethnic armies – the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army and the Arakan Army – from the peace process due to their role in the Kokang offensive in February of that year. This split the armed groups, with eight signing the nationwide ceasefire agreement in October and a similar number boycotting.

In recent weeks negotiators said the three groups would be allowed to attend if they agreed in principle to surrender their weapons. The majority of ethnic armed groups have since agreed to participate in the conference.

U Zaw Htay, deputy director general of the President’s Office and a government representative on the 21st Century Panglong Preparatory Committee, confirmed the decision taken by the UPDJC yesterday.

He said the inability of the UPDJC to amend the framework prior to the conference meant that armed groups that had not signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement could not attend as “representatives”. To get around this problem, all of those invited will be referred to as “participants”.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will personally sign the invitations and ensure that no group is left out, he said.

The government plans to hold peace conferences every six months, Zaw Htay added.

Speaking at yesterday’s meeting, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi stressed the important of the resolution of Myanmar’s ethnic conflicts for the country’s future.

“From the beginning, we must approach the problem with the determination to succeed and the belief we will overcome all difficulties,” she said in her opening address.

More stories

Latest Issue

Stories in this issue
Myanmar enters 2021 with more friends than foes
The early delivery of vaccines is one of the many boons of the country’s geopolitics, but to really take advantage, Myanmar must bury the legacy of its isolationist past.
Will the Kayin BGF go quietly?
The Kayin State Border Guard Force has come under intense pressure from the Tatmadaw over its extensive, controversial business interests and there’s concern the ultimatum could trigger fresh hostilities in one of the country’s most war-torn areas.

Support our independent journalism and get exclusive behind-the-scenes content and analysis

Stay on top of Myanmar current affairs with our Daily Briefing and Media Monitor newsletters.

Sign up for our Frontier Fridays newsletter. It’s a free weekly round-up featuring the most important events shaping Myanmar