Myanmar talks on transition from military to civilian government

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The first day of the three-day Forum on Myanmar Democratic Transition was held yesterday at the Myanmar International Convention Center-2 in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday.
Retired Commander-in-Chief of Indonesia Mr. Agus Widjojo and Dr. Aurel Croissant, a professor of political science from Heidelberg University in Germany, read their papers on the political transition from a military to civilian government.
Mr. Widjojo said that Indonesia and Myanmar face similar challenges with one of them being the transition from a military to civilian government. Indonesia is currently in the process of transition to a civilian government and they have made amendments to their 1945 constitution towards democratic governance.
Mr. Widjojo said the transition in Indonesia was carried out with decisions from its political parties and the military did not participate in the state affairs. He said the parliament needs to be prepared to build trust with different parties in the transition and also prepare for the expectations of the people, some of which may not be in line with a democratic government. He said there shouldn’t be any misunderstandings between the military and civilians during the transition and to reduce that as much as possible, Indonesia had its military staff attend workshops on subjects related to democracy.
He said national reconciliation is important in building an environment that supports the democratic transition and capacity building is necessary to build trust between all concerned parties. He also said this is only advice from Indonesia’s experience as Myanmar and Indonesia are not the same. He said political parties play an important part in the transition and national policy should be written together with civilians and the military.
Prof. Dr. Aurel Croissant discussed about various countries transitions from a military to civilian government. He said changes to the law and the participation of both the military and civilians is needed for the transition. He said a collaborative effort from civilians, political parties, the Hluttaw and the government is needed to build trust and better communications.
Afterwards, Hluttaw representative U Lwin Ko Lett took over as chairperson for the forum. Hluttaw representative U Pyone Cho, Colonel Aung Myint Oo, the head of the National and International Affairs Department at the National Defense College of the Myanmar Armed Forces, and Executive Director Daw Khin Ma Ma Myo from the Myanmar Institute of Peace and Security Studies then discussed on the topic of transition from a military to civil government.
Daw Khin Ma Ma Myo said a framework that all concerned parties have agreed on is important in the transition to a civilian government. She said there might be some tension during the transition but the Hluttaw, political parties and civilians’ participation is necessary.
She said the security sector not only includes the Tatmadaw, police force and central intelligence, but also health security, food security, environmental security and social security. She said all ethnic groups want unity under a federal system and for a country to develop, political reform, social reform, security reform and economic reform need to be developed.
Colonel Aung Myint Oo also said trust building between the military and civilians is important for the transition. He said Myanmar was able to transition in the most peaceful way. He said an interesting situation in Myanmar is that there are many armed ethnic groups in the country and some of them have the military power of a country, therefore everyone needs to work together to find a solution.
Stability and security depend on each other and if there are security concerns in the country then it will have a negative impact on economic development and other sectors as well, said Colonel Aung Myint Oo. He said there needs to be a focus on which sector should be given priority and a suitable theory for the country should be chosen too.
MP U Pyone Cho said there is increased interest from the public after the transition to a civilian government and there has been increased participation from the military in the peace process. However, national reconciliation, constitutional amendment and democratic transition are still ongoing and may soon lead to a table discussion. He said they are working on giving power to the people but there are still some challenges.
There are some sectors that the civilian sector has to perform as they can’t be performed by the government, said U Pyone Cho. He said the strength of the civilians and the strength of the government depend on each other.
Later, attendants of the forum were allowed to ask questions and engage in discussions.

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