Aung San Suu Kyi will take control of Burma’s lurching peace process once her National League for Democracy (NLD) forms government next year, according to a party spokesperson.
The decision was announced in a meeting on Thursday featuring the party’s central executive committee and representatives of the eight rebel groups that signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).
“We told them that If the government implements the peace process, Aung San Suu Kyi will lead that entire process. We will continue to work with the Myanmar Peace Centre [MPC], which has been beneficial thus far,” said Win Htein, an NLD exeutive.
The MPC, funded in part by international donations, has brokered over two years of dialogue between ethnic rebels and the Burmese government. The organisation was formed in 2013 at the request of President Thein Sein, and staffed in part by former political exiles. Thein Sein has highlighted the peace process as one of the defining achievements of his presidency, and questions have arisen as to whether Suu Kyi and the NLD could successfully negotiate on behalf of the military.
“We have kept a policy since 1989 to engage ethnic parties in dialogue. As we aim to establish a democratic federal union in the future so the ethnic cause is one of our priorities,” Win Htein told DVB.
Members of the Karen National Union, the Pa-O National Liberation Organisation, the Chin National Front, the All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF) and the Arakan Liberation Party were among those present at Thursday’s meeting.
“ The NLD won the election. So they have an important role in implementing the peace process in the future. So, we need to tell the NLD what we have done after signing the NCA. The NLD already have aims for the peace process – and they will lead the process,” confirmed Myo Win, the vice-chairman of the ABSDF.
The government and ethnic groups that signed the ceasefire agreement are compelled to draw up a framework for political dialogue within 60 days of the 15 October signing date.
Ethnic groups present at the meeting reportedly told the NLD that the framework would not be strict – and rather aimed at including groups that have yet to accede to the deal.
Suu Kyi told Radio Free Asia on Thursday that the party would continue to implement the peace process.
“There needs to be negotiation from now on in drawing up the political framework. We would like to continue the good work done by the Myanmar Peace Centre. We will change what we think needs alteration. So, it is important to meet with people as early as we can for the country to transition to peace.
“So, it should be fast. We need to take the necessary steps to ensure the transfer of power quickly – and the tasks needed to achieve peace could be implemented immediately after the transfer of power,” Suu Kyi said.
Read more about the peace process here.
Read the full 2015 election coverage here.