April 26, 2018

The Peace Commission and the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) held peace talks in Loikaw, Kayah State, yesterday, taking further steps to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).

Speaking at the opening of the meeting, U Kyaw Tint Swe, Union Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor and Vice Chairman of the National Reconciliation and Peace Centre, conveyed a message from State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, saying that the State Counsellor hoped to see good results from the meeting for peace, which was desired by the people of Kayah State.

The Union Minister said peace was desired not only by the ethnic people in Kayah State, but also the people in the entire country and the international community were watching the peace talks closely.

“Whether this meeting will produce impressive results for peace in Kayah State or uncertain results depends on these people sitting at the negotiation table,” said U Kyaw Tint Swe.

The meeting would decide whether there were prospects for shining rays of peace in the areas stretching from the central part of the country to lower Myanmar, he added.

“Hence, today’s talks will be a historic milestone for the people in Kayah State,” said the Union Minister.

Natural scenic beauty and attractions for travellers in Kayah State are reasons why Kayah State could develop quickly if it gains peace, said U Kyaw Tin Swe.

As the shortest route from Thailand to Nay Pyi Taw is passing through Kayah State, the state also possesses good prospects for trading and the trip makes clear why the people of Kayah have desired peace for many decades.
If we look back at the history of our armed conflicts, we could see that we failed to resolve political problems with peaceful political solutions, and that had led to this prolonged conflict. The incumbent government had put more focus on national reconciliation and peace building and working for inclusion in roundtable discussions such as the 21st Century Panglong Conference. The Peace Commission was continuously working for all stakeholders to be a part of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) which was the door to political dialogue.

There have been misconceptions that signing the NCA meant forfeiting your weapons, but it was actually working for armed conflicts to end while simultaneously endeavouring for political dialogue to solve political problems. The Panglong Conference is discussing the establishment of a democratic federal union, which is something all ethnic groups desire. He added that they were able to sign the first part of the union agreement in the second Panglong Conference and they would discuss inclusion of ethnic groups left over and self-administration in a federal union during the third Panglong Conference.

He said national equality, self-administration, and a basic constitution for each state is something all ethnic people want. He said he wishes for the voice of the Karreni National Progressive Party (KNPP) and the Kayah People to be heard during the meeting.

He said the government would work to resolve the difficulties of the KNPP and remove obstacles that hindered them from signing the NCA. He said that solving the present problems now would help shape the federal union in the future. He said he wanted them to think of the Kayah children of today and their situation when they grow up. He said the children would face the good and bad consequences of our actions today.

He said he hoped today’s meeting would be transparent and honest from both sides and would lead to solutions to overcome obstacles and challenges for the federal democratic union in the future. He said that the hopes and desires of the Kayah people would be given due consideration and good results would be had from the meeting that will lead to signing of the NCA. This was followed by KNPP Executive Committee Member U Bi Htoo delivered a speech saying the KNPP has been involved in the peace process all along and was heading towards signing the NCA. He said they desired to be a part of the federal union and hoped for good results from the meeting.

Afterwards, the Peace Commission and the KNPP began discussions. The meeting continues today.