The chairman of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), Khun Tun Oo, stressed that only those who carry decision-making powers should engage in peace talks. His comment came in his opening speech at the first United Nationalities Alliance (UNA) conference on 22 December.
The Shan leader was referring to the ongoing peace talks between the Myanmar Peace Centre (MPC) and ethnic armed groups which have continued for the past three years. He said, “The MPC’s sole mandate is to talk, but it has no decision-making power whatsoever, and this causes an issue when a party engaged in a bilateral discussion cannot deliver answers.
“Realistically, the talks should include both the Tatmadaw [Burmese army], the MPC and ethnic armed groups, but at the moment we have one group talking to us and another group making decisions. [If it continues] this way, we won’t be able to achieve peace for another 100 years.
“We believe that decision-makers should join the talks in order to reach conclusions; the formula for the talks must change.”
Khun Tun Oo added that the MPC’s recent promise to the armed groups – to expand the talks into the Burmese parliament – was not plausible.
“It is unrealistic that a decision has to be made in the parliament where the discussion didn’t take place. I see that if the procedures continue like this – with the [government] beating around the bush when they are aware of the issue – we will never find a way to peace.”
The conference, planned in Rangoon from 22 – 24 December, is joined by representatives from all eight UNA member parties including the SNLD.
Aye Thar Aung, a member of the UNA, said the conference aims to discuss finding solutions to Burma’s political problems and bring about internal peace.
The UNA consists of eight ethnic parties that competed and won seats in the 1990 elections.