Political parties gear up for post-ceasefire dialogue

Political parties gear up for post-ceasefire dialogue

Representatives of 53 political parties met in Rangoon on 13-14 September to discuss the framework for forthcoming political dialogue between Burma’s ethnic armed groups and the central government.

The country’s two biggest parties, the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party and the opposition National League for Democracy, were notably absent. In all, 63 parties had been invited to participate in the discussions.

Politicians are currently preparing for their participation in tripartite dialogue that will begin within 90 days of reaching a nationwide ceasefire agreement, which negotiators now say will happen by the end of 2014.

“The role of political parties will be important in tripartite dialogue,” said Sai Hla Kyaw, spokesperson for ethnic political alliance Nationalities Brotherhood Federation.

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“We want to have a framework agreed upon by all stakeholders. So far, both sides (ethnic and government negotiators) have established their frameworks, only we haven’t finished preparations. Today we will hear the views of political leaders on peace in Burma,” he said.

Chairman of the National Democratic Force, Khin Maung Swe, said that the attendees will try to reach a consensus even though not all parties were present.

“We can’t say that this meeting is representative of all parties, as some delegates could not attend because they were not in Rangoon. Some sent in their views via email, others deliberately didn’t attend the meeting,” he said. “We can’t speak for those who didn’t want to join. That’s up to them.”

The government’s negotiating bloc, the Union Peace-making Work Committee, invited 34 party representatives and members of the ethnic peace committee, Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team, to meet on 18 August to discuss proposed frameworks. The discussions, reportedly meant to brief politicians on the peace process, followed complaints by some parties that they were being excluded from the negotiations.
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