State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, in her capacity as the Chairperson of National Reconciliation and Peace Centre, attended the 9th edition of Joint Implementing Coordination Meeting (JICM) on the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, which was held at the Sapphire Hall of Myanmar International Convention Centre-I in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday. The meeting was also attended by Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services and Commander-in-Chief (Army) Vice Senior General Soe Win, Vice-Chairmen of NRPC Union Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor U Kyaw Tint Swe, Peace Commission Chair Dr Tin Myo Win, Attorney-General of the Union U Tun Tun Oo, Union Minister U Min Thu, Lt-Gen Yar Pyae, Lt-Gen Min Naung and Lt-Gen Tin Maung Win from the Office of the Commander-in-Chief (Army), NRPC Secretary Deputy Minister U Khin Maung Tin, Peace Commission Secretary Retired Lt-Gen Khin Zaw Oo, Peace Commission advisory board members U Hla Maung Shwe and U Moe Zaw Oo, and Director-General U Zaw Htay of the Ministry of the Office of the State Counsellor.
The ethnic armed organizations were represented by Peace Process Steering Team (PPST) Acting Leader and Chairperson of the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) Sao Yawd Serk, Secretary Sao Sai Ngern, Patron of the PaO National Liberation Organization (PNLO) Khun Okka, Vice-Chairman Khun Myint Tun, Central Committee member of Arakan Liberation Party Saw Mra Yazar Lin, Chairperson of All Burma Students’ Democratic Front U Than Khe, Vice-Chairperson U Myo Win, Saw Mo Shay and Saw Sein Win from Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA), General Secretary of KNU/KNLLA-PC Dr Naw Ka Paw Htoo, Joint General Secretary Saw Kyaw Nyunt, General Secretary of Karen National Union Pado Saw Tar Do Hmu, Central Committee member Pado Saw L Kalusay, Chairman of Lahu Democratic Union Kyar Khun Sar, Secretary Kya Salmon, Chairperson of Chin National Front Pu Zin Kyone, Vice-Chairperson Dr Salai Hlyan Hmone Sar Khaung, Chairperson of New Mon State Party Nai Han Thar and Central Committee member Nai Aung Ma Ngay.
Honor Award and Certificate for Peace Negotiators
Director-General U Zaw Htay announced that the list of peace negotiators who are honoured for their dynamic efforts in the leading role of Joint Implementing Coordination Meeting (JICM) from 2016 to now.
Opening address of State Counsellor
NRPC Chairperson State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi gave a speech. She said as everyone knows, Myanmar has not been able to resolve the issues of different ideological conflicts and conflicts arising out of demands for equality which we have faced at the same time as independence; the result of this was efforts to resolve these matters using arms leading to armed conflicts and endless armed battles; that was how we have reached the present situation. She continued, although attempts have been made for national reconciliation and peace throughout the different periods using different methods and approaches, at the present time after more than 70 years we are still striving; today during our era and time, everyone has accepted the fact that the establishment of a Democratic Federal Union is the solution for resolving the issues of national equality and national unity which are the root cause of armed conflicts.
However, with respect to the democratic transition, there have been differences of opinion among us as to what kind of programmes we need to pursue and what kind of steps we need to take in the establishment of the Democratic Federal Union; this is natural; it is not possible to give undue pressure in order to transform all the differences of opinion to reach conformity and merge into one single view; as an initial step we had to strive towards a common agreement as to how we should march towards a Union, although we had to contend with more than 70 years of differences of opinions; we had to share understanding and build trust; in order to establish understanding and trust, it is very important to be able to have empathy for the wounds, feelings, pain and desires of our ethnic nationals.
Today we have been able to reach an agreement for the establishment of the Democratic Federal Union, by conducting round tables and from these round tables, in spite of differences of opinion, we have arrived at a step-by-step approach, a detailed programme which is acceptable to everyone; this is Part 3 of the Union Accord to be signed at the Union Peace Conference – 21 Century Panglong Fourth Session which has been presented by both the working groups. This Accord would be able to show a clear path for resolving the present political difficulties and the difficulties for establishing the Democratic Federal Union by linking these to amending the Constitution.
We need to see the reality that this Accord is not perfect nor complete; we need to accept this fact; in the post 2020 period, in the step-by-step programmes and step-by-step implementation process, although we have been able to come up with (8) main titles, there is still a need for us to continue our negotiations about the detailed programmes; we need to have detailed discussions regarding how to proceed with the step-by-step programmes as to when the states should draft their constitutions, and how to proceed step-by-step with regard to the distribution of power between the Union and the states; how to carry out the process of security integration at what stage and in what manner; all these need to be implemented in harmony and balance.
No matter what, Part 3 of the draft Union Accord presented at this meeting by the working group was not produced easily; our peace process went through many ups and downs and highs and lows after the end of the Union Peace Conference – 21 Century Panglong Third Session which was held in August of 2018; because it was not possible to convene official meetings, we could say that we experienced a stalled NCA process; during this time our NRPC conducted informal meetings, and official meetings separately and in groups; these were done many times; in order to reactivate the stalled NCA process and resume the peace negotiations, we used many different approaches by considering many methods.
We negotiated until agreement was reached with respect to the practical problems that came up after the signature of the NCA agreement. These included the root causes of incidents at the lowest level among combatants; these were reviewed objectively and views were exchanged between the two groups; discussions were made as to how to find a solution acceptable to all parties; for problems which could not be immediately solved at the present moment, we thought about the problem in many ways so as to adopt an action plan to solve the problem in the long-term. To find a path which has harmony and balance between political aspects and military aspects, we sought to find how to create a better path which could overcome all difficulties of the past. Workgroups of both sides negotiated tirelessly to seek a future path that would be comfortable for all parties concerned.
She added that it was found that the draft agreement was made after serious and intensive discussions with the strenuous efforts among the stakeholders; meetings and discussions were also made through videoconferencing due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic; all the stakeholders in peacemaking process are expressed thanks for their energetic efforts despite many challenges.
The State Counsellor said that it will take times for democratic reform and establishment of a federal union, while the country is working for national reconciliation and peace of the Union simultaneously; after considering the connection between these long-term processes and the amendment of Constitution, the way which encompasses the whole mechanism have been identified, and the route must be taken to erase bitter experiences of the past, to address ongoing problems of the Union and to make the dream of future Union for all the national people come true.
The global countries are fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic which is a common challenge for all; however, different managements have turned out different results; although Myanmar is not a rich country and faced with conflicts and poor healthcare system, the pandemic is well controlled by the public participation with high awareness; the global communities have recognized it; however, people are still advised to remain vigilant against this disease. Although Myanmar is seen as the country with conflicts, people collaboratively faced against the pandemic and the disease has been under control. Peace negotiation could not be made and NCA process came to a halt in the past, however, the situation has improved and the 21st Century Panglong Conference will be held soon; some political agreements have been made; these are the steps towards the emergence of a democratic federal union, national reconciliation and lasting peace in the country.
The State Counsellor emphasized the seriousness of stakeholders in peacemaking processes has generated success; more efforts are needed for the emergence of a democratic federal union and peace; the existing reciprocal understanding and trusts are important steps forward.
She also urged all the stakeholders to strive for peace which is required for the posterity. Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Vice Senior General Soe Win also delivered a speech, saying that implementation of NCA through the results from political dialogues is a crucial step for eternal peace and a democratic federal union that is expected by the national people in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar; serious discussions of peace negotiators in JICM have turned out fruitful results. The 9th edition of JICM was the outcome from implementation of decisions in its 8th edition meeting; the ongoing discussions should be based on the agreements of workgroups made in their preliminary discussions; more preliminary agreements should be turned out; the workgroups met four times before the 9th edition of JICM; although some meanings have been defined in NCA, the terms were discussed again not to deviate from their senses, delaying for discussing new issues; bilateral discussions again for amending the existing agreements such as bilateral/parallel negotiations, the words such as the federal security system which are not included in the NCA; these issues have delayed further steps, and that it is required for speeding up the discussions of civil organizations. The Vice Senior General also suggested to adopt a suitable democracy and federal system for the country without copycatting other styles and allowing to accept the formats forced by others, with giving an example of fitting a dress with the specific body size.
He also emphasized the Our Three Main National Causes, the own situations of the country, removing mistrust among the stakeholders in peacemaking efforts. He also quoted Article 354 of the Constitution concerning freedom of expression in the discussions about future processes beyond 2020. The Vice Senior General finally advised to make peace negotiations in line with the Constitution and the situations of the country and the unity of national people in facing against the challenges; closed-door policy is no more appropriate in the period of IT and globalization; national interest must be considered in international relations; the establishment of the Union based on democracy and federal system through political dialogues; the Tatmadaw is enthusiastic about the lasting peace of the country.
PPST Acting Leader and Chairperson of RCSS Sao Yawd Serk
The 8th JICM could adopt guidelines and resolutions for peacemaking processes; both sides held 8 meetings to discuss the framework agreement for NCA, the plan for beyond 2020 and phase-by-phase implementations, basic principles for building a Democratic Federal Union, holding the 4th session of Union Peace Conference, enforcing the ceasefire, more ethnic armed organizations in peace processes.
The role of leaders from all the stakeholders plays a crucial role in the agreement to organize the 21st Century Panglong Conference on 19,20 and 21 August.
Topics at 9th JICM
Participants then discussed issues and agreements for discussion format in the enforcement of the ceasefire, the NCA framework agreements that will include in Part 3 of Union Accord, processes for beyond 2020 and table 1 of phase by phase implementation, approvals for fundamental agreements for building a Democratic Federal Union, further discussions between the government and the NCA-S EAOs, decisions on the schedules of the Union Peace Conference and the general issues.
In his concluding remark, PPST Acting Leader and Chairperson of RCSS Sao Yawd Serk said the 9th JICM could approve the results of negotiation meetings and schedules for the 21st Century Panglong Conference; the firm determination of leaders from both sides in making agreements on Part 3 of the Union Accord. Vice Senior General Soe Win also said the 9th JICM could make the 7 points of agreement and the schedule for the Union Peace Conference has been decided; these developments were expected by the people; further discussions will be made on Table 2 for step-by-step implementation of works beyond 2020 and basic principles and guidelines for democracy and federal system in line with the situations of the country.
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said that struggle and efforts with patience are needed to achieve an excellent result; good intention, wisdom and courage are required in working for the emergence of a genuine Democratic Federal Union; this intention could help in overcoming all the difficulties; wisdom is also as important as the good intention for making right decisions; courage is the opposite of doubt in works; all these three matters are required in making crucial steps for establishing a Democratic Federal Union; the fruitful results from peace are for the next generations, and that long-term objectives must be considered.
She said that each step for peacemaking effort is well appreciated and that honour awards and certificates were presented to all the stakeholders in recognition of their works in this process, and it is believed that collaborative efforts would be made in the Union Peace Conference that will commence on 19 August. —MNA (Translated by Kyaw Myaing, Aung Khin)