Burma’s ethnic minorities will never cede from the country, providing their rights are respected and a genuine federal union established, said Nai Hongsa, one of the leading negotiators for the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) on Saturday.
Speaking at a briefing for Burmese political parties in the wake of a five-day round of ceasefire talks between the NCCT ethnic alliance and a government delegation, Mon leader Nai Hongsa said, “If ethnic nationalities’ fundamental rights and birth rights are fully assured, we will never separate from this country.
“If we can build a genuine federal union based on equality and self-determination, then no one need worry about us breaking away.”
Delegations from the NCCT and the government’s Union Peace-making Work Committee, headed by Minister Aung Min, met with representatives from more than 60 political parties at the weekend to report on the outcome of this week’s talks at the Myanmar Peace Centre in Rangoon.
Saw Than Myint, deputy-chairman of the Federal Union Party, said the informal meeting was facilitated as per a request from the political parties.
“The talks [between UPWC and NCCT] took a few days longer this time. But we requested a briefing because this is a rare opportunity for us to get together,” he said. “But this is an informal meeting, so no major decisions were made.”
In his opening speech, the UPWC’s Aung Min said the one-day conference is an opportunity to help promote trust among the government, the ethnic armed groups and political forces in the lead-up to political dialogue.
“We believe facilitating such tripartite meetings will help build the necessary trust in the lead-up to political dialogue,” he told delegates. “We wish to include the political parties as participants in the political dialogue process– which is the next step in the peace process.”
Among several parties absent from the event were Burma’s two major political parties, the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party and the opposition National League for Democracy.
The next round of talks aimed at signing a nationwide ceasefire are scheduled for October.