Emergence of new peace architecture set in January

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Director-General U Zaw Htay. Photo: Aye Than

Director-General U Zaw Htay of the Ministry of Office of State Counsellor met local and foreign media-persons at the Press Briefing Room of the Presidential Palace in Nay Pyi Taw at 3 pm on 8 January in accord with the social distancing arrangement and explained the current situation of the nation.
At the press meet, Director-General U Zaw Htay explained the implementation of the post-2020 peace process with the involvement of NCA signatories and non-signatories through new approaches and efforts from all angles as the first point. In the second point, he assured serious consideration for the public role, which guarantees majority involvement. In the third point, he briefed on intense absorption in the new design of the peace process, which includes the policy guideline, necessary groupings and the adoption of the system and mechanism. In the fourth point, he explained the practical efforts to implement the sectors — work program, designing and all-inclusiveness — in the coming five years.
In explaining the fifth point, he said the new peace architecture beyond 2020 that will strike a balance between representation and effectiveness realization would be realized with added momentum, after comprehensively taking into account the review process in which participants from the main stakeholders to academics, management support groups, political parties, civil society organizations and the people can hold thorough discussions. As regards this part, the stakeholder groups are holding talks on the peace process, and because of Covid-19, they have been holding discussions for many times at zoom meetings, which is a continuous process.
The pros and cons of the peace process that started in 2016 were heard, and insight reviews and outsight reviews have been made in adopting the new method. We have listened to views of observers in addition to reviews of the participants of the process in compiling an insight review. Now, the work of collecting insight review and outsight review is in progress, and the adoption of the new peace architecture is based on it. Hence, the new peace architecture in a new design will appear this month, the DG said.
But there still remain many persons and organizations that will take part in the continuous dialogue. There will be coordination meetings in the coming week. The sixth point and the seventh point are important. The sixth point is the realization of the set goal for the advent of an encouraging stage from where the inclusive path to the goal of the Union can be seen vividly in 2022, which is the 75th anniversary or the diamond jubilee of the Panglong Agreement. The annual extent of progress beginning from 2021 must be set through coordination. The extent must be set and will try to reach its end through the dialogue between the government and the stakeholders, the DG said.
The seventh point is the diamond jubilee of Independence Day. The government will adopt a work program during the post-diamond jubilee to anticipate the type of the country on 4 January 2022, on which the 75th anniversary falls and to realize the way of living. These seven points are the main excerpts of the speech made by the State Counsellor in her New Year message.
There is a new post-2020 peace programme, which has three work programmes, and they have been already explained. Now I will explain their implementation and involvement. Political dialogue has proved its vitality in solving the core problems during the administrations of AFPFL, Revolutionary Council, Burma Socialist Programme Party, Tatmadaw, USDP and the NLD governments. Failure to reach the level of political dialogue has resulted in the continuation of the armed conflicts for many years. We have three work programs based on Part 3 of the Union Accord to lay the path towards this level. We have extracted these facts from the addresses of the State Counsellor at the sessions of the peace conference and the NCA anniversaries. So, the new peace architecture will be the foundation of our coming endeavours. We have now reached the Part 3 of the Union Accord in holding the dialogue with the 10 NCA signatories.
We have reached a Joint Statement with KNPP, a non-signatory. During the previous month, there was an online bilateral talk with KNPP, which expressed its desire it wishes to realize before signing the NCA. The date for another meeting has been set in this month.
The bilateral meeting has four participants – Wa, Mongla, SSPP and KIA/KIO. Because of the continuous engagements with Tatmadaw troops, the bilateral meeting with KIA was almost cancelled. There are also three groups – AA, TNLA and MNDAA. We have reached the level beyond the stage of issuing statements since we started discussions with them. Now, we are holding bilateral talks. We have held thorough discussions on the path towards NCA. There was an informal meeting at the Kunming meeting, but there was a slight disagreement on the method of the process with them.
After holding a further discussion on the disagreement, we have reached a written consent with them on the process that has three stages. As the written consent has already been reached with the three groups, the government offered a dialogue with them in this month. We will hold talks with the three groups and KIA totalling four groups through the three-stage process. We expect to reach an NCA agreement with Wa, Mongla and SSPP. We have already realized three parts of Union Accord with NCA signatories. Part 3 of the Union Accord has three major sectors. The first is the framework agreement on the implementing of NCA.
The second is the post-2020 stage-wise work program and stage-wise implementations. We have reached accords in this sector. Part 3 is the basic principle in establishing a Union based on democracy and federal system. A small number of the points of Part 3 still need further discussions. Union Accord will go through a stage-wise implementation process. So, all the federal principles and democratic principles adopted at meetings will not be implemented together as expected earlier. When the step-by-step accords are reached through practical efforts, the way towards amending the 2008 Constitution will be sought, and sharing the constitutional rights to regions and states will be based on its results.
Power-sharing process of the 2008 Constitution includes the Union legislative list and the region/state legislative list. The way to designate joint powers between the Union and region/state will be sought, and at present, some of the issues the government is facing are concerned with both the Union and region/state. So, there will be in-depth discussions on power sharing. As a practicable way will be realized, the new process will be much different from the current trend. As we must make a significant transformation, the functions of the conference, UPDJC, work committee and National Dialogue will also change. So, the new model, new approach, and the new process will emerge soon.
Peace-building is separated from the Union Accord. Peace-building is the first process, and efforts will be made to restore ceasefire. We will try to reach a ceasefire agreement with the non-signatories, and cement the existing ceasefire. We have further work to cement ceasefire through the monitoring process, and at the same time, we still have to lay down development programmes and IDP return programmes at the areas where a ceasefire is in force. So, we have set up different steps for the peace process. Another thing is the state-building. We wish to strengthen the regions and states. In other words, we will enhance their powers. So, we must further strengthen the administrative, legislative and judicial mechanisms and do more power-sharing.
All these undertakings can be designated as State-Building. The final stage is the nation-building which is the realization of the characteristics of the Union. We had earlier discussions for nation- building. But we cannot take a single identity as some big countries do. We have over 100 ethnic races. The inclusive agreement to the collective identity is called the Nation Building. There are two stages to implement the task, and they are the political sector and the military sector. The political sector has the implementation process of the Union Accord. There is also the reconciliation process from the security point of view that must be realized in accord with the para 30 of NCA. The two processes must go in parallel, and they need a mechanism. Here, I would like to say that after realizing the political sector and the military sector in parallel, we will reach the Democratic Federal Union. Another is the temporary ceasefire agreement with the four groups of the northern alliance. We have already sent the draft ceasefire agreement to them.
The discussion will be held depending on the northern alliance’s attitude of four ethnic armed groups, and it is offered to conduct the discussion at Myitkyina or Kengtung. For the second phase, the Bilateral Ceasefire Agreement will be carried out one by one, including other IDPs affairs and development programmes. For example, it will include the areas where the election was not held.
He continued to say that they will discuss the main facts to gain effective ceasefire and avoid engagement between two groups. The conflict resolution will also be discussed how to manage if one side violates the agreements.
He then added the troop deployments would also be negotiated not to occur fighting.
Three and four organizations in the northern alliance and seven members of FPNCC welcomed the election results. It can be seen their willingness to cooperate with the new government in peace processes. So, the discussion format can be different from the former ones in the coming talks. Discussions are being made to achieve a common position among the government, Hluttaw and Tatmadaw. The government is ready to discuss with the four northern alliance members. The government waits for a reply from them.
The Director-General then replied to the questions of media on the issue of writ application against State President to Union Supreme Court, purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, time to receive vaccines and cash contribution, attitude of government for the Tatmadaw’s request to hold elections in the regions where the polls could not be held, political prisoner affairs, Myanmar seamen seized in Iran, arrangements for Shwe Kokko region of Kayin State, whether U Ye Min Oo participates in business field after he took governmental responsibility, performance of the Ministry of Home Affairs in arresting the fugitives whom the government wants, appointment of housing doctors, investigation of the Ministry of Home Affairs for the shooting incident of Ko Swe Win from Myanmar Now, prosecution against teachers who served as heads of polling booths, the current condition of relation between civilian and military, border fencing between China and Myanmar, different law sections for the same cases of KTVs which violated law during COVID-19 pandemic, investigation for the death case of Hluttaw MP U Htike Zaw, visit of Chinese Foreign Minister, performance of government for the fighting between KNU and Tatmadaw, reopening of primary schools, resettlement of Myaing Gyi Ngu IDPs, reshuffle of ward/villages administrators and the misuse of COVID-19 fund.
Regarding the writ application against President to Union Supreme Court, the Director-General explained with three facts.
He said he wants to say in accordance with law for the first fact. The Union Government Law was signed by Senior General Than Shwe, the Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council on 21 October 2010.
The sub-section (a) of Section 6 states the Union Government shall be formed with the following persons (i) President of the Union, (ii) Vice Presidents of the Union, (iii) Union Ministers, (iv) Attorney-General of the Union.
The sub-section (b) of Section (6) states the Director-General of the Office of the Union Government shall be the Union Government’s ex-officio secretary. The sub-section (b) of Section (7) states the same things such as shall, in carrying out under sub-section (a), have the right to carry out the party organizing works and constituency organizing works if it conforms with the provisions contained in sections 120 and 121 of the Constitution, commencing from the day of the declaration by the Union Election Commission to hold the election so that a citizen shall not lose the right to be elected as conferred under sub-section (a) of section 38 of the Constitution if the said person is a member of any political party, individual candidate or a citizen specifically appointed and assigned duty and if he will contest in the forthcoming general election.
The main word in that stipulation is that “if he will contest in the forthcoming general election”.
The President and State Counsellor are the ones who contest in 2020 multiparty general election as Pyithu Hluttaw representatives. So it can be clearly seen that they have rights right to carry out the party organizing works and constituency organizing works, and it also conforms to the law.
He continued the second fact that the announcements of two Union Election Commissions led by Chairmen U Tin Aye and U Hla Thein.
If we look at the notification no (31/2015) of U Tin Aye’s commission released on 8 July 2015 and notification no (117/2020) of U Hla Thein’s commission released on 1 July 2020, we can see the different notification numbers and dates. The first paragraph’s difference is that the dates for elections, party organizing works, and constituency organizing works. The second paragraph is also different from the dates for elections, election campaigns and constituency organizing works. The final parts also are distinguishable only with the sign, letter numbers and dates.
So, It is clear that the Union Election Commission led by U Hla Thein carried out the same measures in the 2020 general election just like the Union Election Commission led by 2015 general election.
For the third fact, U Zaw Weik applied the Writ of Quo Warranto against four officials, including the President to Union Supreme Court.
According to the Application of Wirt Law and Rules, the Director-General will have to open case full documents and grant order applications. The initial hearing group formed with three Justices of Union Supreme Court can order initial order or deny by their attitude or hearing the petitioners. The Supreme Court summoned to hear via videoconferencing on 29 January.
The four respondents do not need to come to the tribunal, and it is not true that the Supreme Court accepts the case.
According to Section 215 of the Constitution and Section 43 of the Union Government Law, it is stated: “The President shall not be answerable to either any Hluttaw or court for the exercise of these powers and functions in accord with the Constitution or any law.”
He continued that the President and the State Counsellor performed in accordance with the law and didn’t do anything against the law. He said the people themselves know that despite the various criticisms of those who couldn’t accept the election defeat. He added the overwhelming victory of NLD in 1990 and 2015 election and the steady support of the people since 1990 to 2020 and therefore the false criticisms will just lead to political suicide.
Regarding the spreading of news on social media about the appointment of trainee doctors, the Union Minister of the Union Government Office and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry made the decision without presenting to the State Counsellor, it was fake news. There are processes to submit any case to the relevant department or ministry, and the direction has been issued on 22 April 2020 to Union Level Organization, Union Minister Offices, Nay Pyi Taw Council and all states and regions governments not to give information to irrelevant persons and if so, there will be charges. He said it was a matter of misunderstanding and the unwanted attacks were caused by the posting of unnecessary information on social media.
Regarding the Government’s response to the resumption of fighting between the KNU and the Tatmadaw, he said when the fight began at the bottom, the KNU sent a letter to the Lt-Gen Yar Pyae in the Tatmadaw and only a copy was sent to the NRPC chairperson. The KNU was explained for the sending of the copy. Due to the nature of the letter, the government couldn’t take responsibility since a copy was sent to the NRPC and therefore, to send to the Government if they want the Government to take responsibility.
He said although the Government know the reason for the fight, it can’t take any action since the letter wasn’t sent to the Government. Therefore, the KNU sent a letter to the Chairperson of the NRPC, the State Counsellor. The reply letter was sent to the KNU after the non-official discussion with Tatmadaw since before the Christmas, and it’s still impossible to meet due to the holiday period. He said the Government has sent the agenda to discuss to the KNU and waiting for the meeting to be held as soon as possible.
The Government has discussed with the officials from the Electricity Department about the Bogali hydropower project in advance in order to discuss with the KNU. In addition, there are proposals proposed by the KNU and the discussion has been made how to deal with these proposals.
Regarding the re-election of ward/village administrators, he said ward/village administration is important as it is the bottom of the administrative machinery. He added the election of ward/village administrators would be held all over the country and new administrators will be appointed nationwide on April 1.
There are three procedures for appointing administrators. Once the process of appointing administrators is completed, they will be provided with on-the-job training. The duties of an administrator have been issued under the current government.
During the COVID-19 period, there was controversy over the role of ward village administrators in supporting families with no regular income. Therefore, he said he wants the people to be interested in the selection of ward village administrators.
The amended law is more transparent than the previous one, and the selection process can be carried out more systematically. During the COVID-19 period, the WAs / VAs were in charge of Census; These are the groups that have to do practical work such as maintaining discipline. Therefore, he said the Government is planning to make them more systematic and qualified.
For those who want to serve as Administrator, the necessary information will be disseminated. He wished all the people to be interested in the ward/ village administrator election process as it is a personal right and opportunity to select.— Myo Min Naing
(Translated by TMT, Khine Thazin Han and Ei Phyu Phyu Aung)

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