Shan party calls for early political dialogue

Shan party calls for early political dialogue

The Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD)—a major Shan political party—has urged the Burmese government and armed ethnic groups to start political dialogue as soon as possible in order to end armed conflict in Burma.

In a statement released on 26 October, the SNLD called for national reconciliation and stressed that political problems in Burma cannot be solved via armed conflict.

“At the moment, the armed ethnic groups’ Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team [NCCT] and the government’s Union Peacemaking Work Committee [UPWC] are negotiating a nationwide ceasefire, but they haven’t been able to make progress,” said SNLD General Secretary Sai Nyunt Lwin.

“It’s unlikely the two parties will meet again in October, but we urge them to resume their dialogue as soon as possible because military operations are currently rampant in Shan State, and we think these issues are better resolved at the negotiation table.”

The Shan party said that conflicts between armed ethnic groups and the government—despite the signing of several ceasefire agreements—have become more complicated, primarily because of a lack of trust and respect between the two sides.

The SNLD, which released its statement to mark the 26th anniversary of the party’s formation, also called for a review or complete redraft of the 2008 Constitution on grounds that it is not an effective way of solving the country’s ethnic problems. The statement also said the SNLD is willing to facilitate an inclusive political dialogue.

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Sai Nyunt Lwin said the SNLD still has not fully prepared for the 2015 elections, but he told DVB that voter education and other activities must be carried out in order to ensure a free and fair election.

The SNLD won the second largest number of parliamentary seats in the 1990 election after the National League for Democracy. The Shan party was later disbanded after its leaders—including popular veteran statesman Khun Htun Oo—were detained and given lengthy jail sentences in 2005. Htun Oo was released in a presidential amnesty in 2012, and the party re-registered after Thein Sein became president. Today the SNLD has between 35,000- 40,000 members.

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