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Naypyidaw’s chief negotiator in ceasefire talks, Aung Min, has urged political party leaders to take part in any future rounds of dialogue with ethnic armed groups.
Speaking at the Myanmar Peace Centre in Rangoon on Monday, at a meeting between the government’s Union Peace-making Work Committee (UPWC) and some 150 representatives of 66 political parties, Aung Min made the call following an agreement to facilitate political dialogue with armed minorities within 90 days of the signing of a nationwide ceasefire.
“As for our government,” said Aung Min, “we would like to begin political dialogue at the beginning of next year. As there are elections coming up in 2015, there is not much time left and so, in order to use time effectively, we are looking to start pre-emptive discussions on the political framework for talks in parallel with efforts to bring about a national ceasefire.”
He told the politicians the UPWC had already agreed to such steps with the ethnic alliance Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), which is concurrently “making preparations for dialogue”.
At the latest round of ceasefire talks in May, the NCCT agreed on the second draft of a single-text nationwide ceasefire with the government, although both sides conceded that some 30 points were still outstanding for discussion.
But the two sides – bitter enemies over many decades of civil strife – are yet to debate a framework for political dialogue. The ethnic militias have reportedly requested the participation of government, ethnic and political party representatives, while the government has suggested the inclusion of civil society groups and academics in the process.