“History teaches us that for this transition to succeed we have no alternative but to talk to one another. I hope this meeting will be the start of a conversation and will allow us to begin framing a common vision and a common path forward. I would like to invite all of you to work hand in hand to achieve that common vision.”
Nay Pyi Taw, 31 Oct—The political dialogue of leaders of five national political forces was held at Ngu Shwe Wah Hall of the Presidential Palace in Nay Pyi Taw on Friday.
President U Thein Sein delivered an opening address at the dialogue. He said:
On behalf of the government and the people, I would first like to thank all of you for accepting my invitation to come to this meeting today. While I have met with some of you individually to discuss Myanmar’s political process, and despite my wish to have this kind of a gathering, this is the first time we are able to hold a meeting such as this. I am truly delighted about this and I would like to thank all of you again for making this happen.
Since my administration came into power, we have tried to implement a holistic set of reforms after carefully considering from all perspective the ways to make the democratic transition take root. I have always believed that the current state of reforms and the political process are where they are at not only because of what my administration has done but also because of the concerted efforts of the legislature, political parties, Tatmadaw and the people. While there are successes in these reforms that we can be proud of, there still remain many challenges that we must overcome. This is the political reality of today. We will attain success and overcome these challenges only if Myanmar’s political forces come together in a common purpose.
I also believe that we will be able to come up with the solutions that will aid our current political process if the political forces present here today work together. That said, I want to discuss three main agendas today. I also want to invite all of you to discuss candidly other issue of interest to you during this meeting. First, I would like to talk about the continuation of the democratic transition and the political process, and how we can make sure that these reforms lead to democracy taking root and the overall development of a free society. Second, I would like to touch on the ways to strengthen the peace process so that the successes that we have achieved thus far can continue to form the basis for the national reconciliation process that is needed for our country. Third, I would like to discuss about how to successfully carry out the 2015 elections which is critical for the democratic transition in our country.
In order for these three broad agendas to succeed, the challenges that we will have to overcome include: state building; socio-economic reforms; development of a democratic culture; national reconciliation based on the peace process; and democratic governance including rule of law. Some of these challenges and processes must be carried out immediately while some others need to be tackled during the short and medium term. Regardless, we will only succeed if all the political forces work together to overcome these challenges and manage these processes in synchrony. Though we may each have different ideas on how best to move towards a democratic and prosperous society, I am confident that we all wish to see our democratic transition succeed. History teaches us that for this transition to succeed we have no alternative but to talk to one another. I hope this meeting will be the start of a conversation and will allow us to begin framing a common vision and a common path forward, I would like to invite all of you to work hand in hand to achieve that common vision. I would also like to stress that the current peace process has brought national reconciliation within reach and we will get to that destination if we can successfully hold the political dialogues. That is to say, the political progress we have managed to achieve so far has allowed us to aim for a brighter future for the country.
In order to make sure that the democratic transition endures, the 2015 elections must be held in a free and fair manner. Not only that, it is our national duty to make sure that it happens. At the same time, we cannot disregard the fact that political stability is the basis to make these elections a success. In doing so, we also must not restrict the political activities of any organizations. Instead, we should try to promote mutual understanding among different political forces and this will allow us to adopt pragmatic approaches to face the challenges. Only then will we be able to manage the rather high expectations that the people have from the political openness brought about by recent reforms. All political forces should also refrain from resorting to confrontational approaches so that these actions will not undermine the political and peace processes. The reason that I am placing an emphasis on political stability during this time of transition is not because I want to restrict the rights of the people to organize political activities freely but because I want to make certain that the political reform process can move forward without any interruptions. I also want to note that we should take full advantage of the political openness we have achieved thus far to ensure that the 2015 elections are held freely, fairly and successfully. I would like to affirm the executive branch’s commitment to do everything necessary to bring about free and fair elections.
I would like to emphasize again that this is a crucial time for all of us to work together to make sure that the reform process is successful. The success of the political reforms hinges on the ways in which the peace process evolves. As such, the government, the Hluttaw, the ethnic armed groups and the Tatmadaw should work together towards concluding the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). Only then, we will be able to start the political dialogue process. We will also need to have both the short term and the long term plans to aid us in finding solutions. What we are trying to achieve is to leave behind a firm foundation of the peace process for the next democratically elected government to build upon. Only then will we be able to achieve a federal system that can guarantee equality among all ethnic peoples.
I hope that this meeting will help us find productive mechanisms which will allow us to work hand in hand to find durable solutions. I would like to suggest that all political forces work in concert to ensure that the political transition will be smooth, that the 2015 elections will be free and fair, and that there will be a peaceful transfer of power. I am convinced that this meeting will generate the outcomes that will contribute to a brighter future for the country and the people. I would like to invite all of you to express your opinions freely and openly.
The participants of the dialogue discussed solving solutions for political issues through political way, amendment of constitution in line with the constitution, emphasis to be placed on building trusts among the groups for reform process, signing of nationwide ceasefire at the end of 2014 or in the early 2015, laying down the frameworks for further political dialogues before 2015 general elections, holding of the 2015 general elections free and fair with the use of united strength of government, political parties, community based social organizations, media and international community, priority to be given to soci0economic development and holding of dialogues for seeking the best ways.
Also present at the dialogue were Vice Presidents Dr Sai Mauk Kham and U Nyan Tun, Speaker of Pyidaungsu Hluttaw and Pyithu Hluttaw (Lower House) Thura U Shwe Mann, Speaker of Amyotha Hluttaw (Upper House) U Khin Aung Myint, Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Chairman of the Union Election Commission U Tin Aye, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Commander-in-Chief (Army) Vice-Senior General Soe Win, Vice Chairman of the Union Solidarity and Development Party U Htay Oo, Chairperson of the National League for Democracy Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, representative of the National Unity Party U Thein Tun, representative of United Nationalities Alliance U Khun Tun Oo, representative of Nationalities Brotherhood Federation (NBF) U Sai Aik Paung and representative of Federal Democratic Alliance U Khin Maung Swe.