Part III of Union Accord approved at 20th UPDJC meeting

Press briefing is held after the 20th meeting of UPDJC on 20 August. PHOTO: MNA
Press briefing is held after the 20th meeting of UPDJC on 20 August. PHOTO: MNA

The Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee reached an agreement to sign the Part III of the Union Accord during its 20th meeting held at MICC-I in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday. A press conference was held after the meeting with UPDJC Secretariat members Tar Hla Pe, U Zaw Htay and Nai Aung Ma Ngay where they explained the structure of Part III of the Union Accord, which will be signed at the 4th session of the Union Peace Conference – 21st Century Panglong. U Zaw Htay said the content of Part III of the Union Accord was submitted to the peace conference on its first day and approved by the UPDJC in this meeting. It will be signed at the peace conference today.
The third part of the Union Accord includes a framework to implement the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), a framework for implementation of various processes beyond 2020, and basic principles to establish a democratic federal union. Nai Aung Ma Ngay said they will incorporate the implementation framework for the NCA, a framework for processes after 2020, and the basic principles of a union based on democracy and federalism at the peace conference. The peace conference will have 11 programmes in addition to signing the Part III. U Zaw Htay then replied to a question on how the government will persuade non-signatories to sign the NCA. Both sides are negotiating towards a meeting and after KIA+3 submitted their position and thoughts, the government held a meeting with the Tatmadaw and Hluttaws as well. Certain factors in these groups led to some restrictions in the invitation for the peace conference and this might require the Government and Tatmadaw to talk on how discussion with those 4 groups will be arranged. An official response will be sent to them after a decision has been made, said U Zaw Htay.
He added that there are negotiations on MoUs as the EAOs seem to be observing the upcoming election and the situation that will follow it. The resurgence of COVID-19 in Rakhine State recently is a cause for concern and the Ministry of Health and Sports has issued directives to prevent a second wave. This will make travelling and meeting face-to-face a challenge if, for example, a meeting was organized in China where they will have their own quarantine rules and measures and returning from there means people will have to go into quarantine again here. The government also has to work out details with the Tatmadaw on this matter and these reasons are why it is not easy at the moment to persuade non-signatories.
UPDJC Secretariat member Tar Hla Pe replied to a question on the government’s role and involvement in the peace process. He said there is the UPDJC sector, JICM sector, JMC sector, NRPC sector and Peace Commission sector to the peace process. He said the government, Hluttaw and Tatmadaw are one side, the EAOs are one side, and while the political parties are technically one side they are linked to the government’s side. He said it would be difficult to connect with the international community and arange national level events without the involvement of the government. Thus, while we are negotiating and discussing at an equal level, the government has the role to lead implementation, said Tar Hla Pe.
Responding to the same question, U Zaw Htay said the peace process is a local process and that is why there is no leading or negotiations from foreign entities. This is why the government has to lead and the government of any given time has to take that role. He said the government has to lead negotiations with non-signatories and signatories in addition to political dialogues and ceasefire matters.
U Zaw Htay said there is a peculiarity as all 10 NCA signatories are not necessarily of one mind and a collective agreement has to be negotiated. It is the same case with the 21 political parties that won the election where a common stance has to be negotiated at the UPDJC. The government also has to negotiate within itself between the government officials, the Hluttaw and the Tatmadaw before going into talks with EAOs and political parties.
U Zaw Htay said they have to renegotiate with the Tatmadaw if topics they have not discussed yet emerge. He said most other nations don’t have three different factions in the government sector for their peace processes. He said this is why they have to divide the government and Hluttaw to one group and the Tatmadaw to one group when drawing frameworks and the Tatmadaw and EAOs coordinate with each other as well.
U Zaw Htay then answered a question on whether the government will request the Tatmadaw to extend their ceasefire announcement after 31 August. He said the UN Secretary-General requested a ceasefire around the world during the COVID-19 period. Some nations with internal conflicts responded at the national level, some responded with date restrictions, and some responded with regional restrictions. He said the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council decided to announce the call to ceasefire with the exception of conflict with those labelled as terrorist organizations. The Tatmadaw’s announcement is also similar to that principle and it was negotiated with the government as well. The ceasefire period will depend on the COVID-19 situation and status of the world, said U Zaw Htay.The Part III of Union Accord will be signed by UPDJC Vice–Chairperson Dr Tin Myo Win in representing for the Government, Dr May Win Myint for the Hluttaw, Lt-Gen Tin Maung Win for the Tatmadaw, Dr Lyan Hmone Sar Khaung for EAOs and U Thu Wai for the political parties.
UPDJC Secretariat member Nai Aung Ma Ngay said, “The third point in the Part III of Union Accord is quite significant and concerned with the establishment of a Federal Union. There are 8 points for the step by step implementation of peace in the post 2020. We reached agreements principally on the topics for discussions in these points. The Part III will develop opportunities to hold talks on constitutions for the states. We have discovered fundamental principles for building a Federal Union and for persuading the other ethnic armed organizations into peace talks.”
UPDJC Secretariat member Tar Hla Pe said, “A total of 51 points of agreements have been signed in the Part I and Part II of the Union Accord. The upcoming Part III could activate those agreements because it includes an agreement to implement the Union Accord. The more remarkable outcome is a pledge to continue peace process under future administration beyond 2020.” UPDJC Secretariat member U Zaw Htay said, “Some countries take further steps for DDR and SSR after ceasefire agreement. However, we will lead to political way after the ceasefire. The NCA will control ceasefire while holding political dialogues, and final stage is the establishment of a Federal Union. The Tatmadaw has agreed in the paragraph 22 (d) of NCA to amend the Constitution. He added, “The State Counsellor talked about democratic reform and practice of federalism, as well as peace and national reconciliation. Implementation of peace process in the Part III of Union Accord beyond 2020 is as important as the framework agreement on implementation of NCA in the Part I. Although there are some weaknesses in the NCA, we could make agreements to overcome these issues.”
U Zaw Htay continued to say, “We will proceed the political issue in three steps. This agreement is a great success to implement the step by step peace process beyond 2020 in working for peace, democratic reform, federalism and national reconciliation. The Conference could promote the future peace processes to a better level.” (Translated by Zaw Htet Oo, Aung Khin)

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