In a message to the nation to mark the 68th anniversary of Union Day, Burma’s President Thein Sein urged his people to work together to establish a union based on a federal system.
“The government has been relentless in its efforts to sign a nationwide ceasefire agreement and has been holding all-inclusive political dialogue with all national political forces with the aim of developing a union based on a federal system and a genuine peace that puts an end to the armed conflicts that have raged for over six decades, ever since independence was regained,” the president said.
Union Day celebrations began in Naypyidaw on Thursday morning before dawn.
Political activist group the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society said in a statement that Burma has been unable to realise the expectations of its ethnic nationalities since independence in 1948, and those minorities continue to be the main victims of the civil war. It stressed that ethnic equality cannot be achieved without the guarantee for a federal union.
Union Day commemorates the signing of the Panglong Agreement between Gen. Aung San and leaders of the Shan, Kachin and Chin ethnic groups on 12 February 1947, an accord which pledged the formation of a federal union after independence from the British colonial government.
The opposition National League for Democracy announced it would hold an event to commemorate Union Day at People’s Square in Rangoon.