Ethnic leaders agree on 8 principles for a federal Burma

Ethnic leaders agree on 8 principles for a federal Burma

On the second day of their plenary meeting in the Kachin State town of Maijayang, representatives of 17 of Burma’s main ethnic armed groups agreed on a list of eight basic principles that they say will be the foundation of a future federal union in Burma.

The eight principles are: sovereignty; equality; self-determination; establishment of a genuine federal union; protection of ethnic rights, democratic rights and basic human rights; gender equality; a multi-party democratic system; and secularism.

Representatives also formed a working committee to initiate discussions on each of the issues.

Yesterday, the event’s organising committee chairman, Khu Oo Reh of the Karenni National Progressive Party, said in his opening speech that the four-day talks in Maijayang would entail an agenda of four main items: discussion and endorsement of the Panglong manual; adoption of basic principles concerning a federal democratic union; adoption of basic principles regarding security and defence; and amendment of the framework for political dialogue, which is due to kick off at the end of next month – negotiations that the government’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has dubbed the 21st Century Panglong Conference, or 21CPC.

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Meanwhile, one of the ethnic armed groups that has not attended the Maijayang forum, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), on Wednesday sent 90 representatives, led by vice-chairman Pao Yu Yi, to Naypyidaw to meet with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing on Friday.

The UWSA is considered the strongest ethnic militia in the country with estimates ranging up to 20,000 troops. The Wa army has been linked to Burma’s drugs trade for many years.

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