Members of the Union Peace and Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) have stated that they remain concerned about the delay of the fourth session of the Union Peace Conference and the current deadlock in Burma’s peace process.
In a statement released on June 17, the group—which consists of members of the government, political parties, and ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement—said that much was riding on the success of dialogue between the government and EAOs.
The Union Peace Conference, also known as the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference, is supposed to be convened every six months, but the last session was held in July 2018. The second session was held more than a year before that.
In that meeting, secretary of the UPDJC’s political party representatives Sai Kyaw Nyunt said that problems were “avoided” and participants felt they could not discuss how to move the negotiation process forward.
“We have not been able to solve the problems,” he told KNG. “We have deadlocked issues such as non-secession, the issue of having only ‘one army,’ and so on. We could not discuss these deadlocked issues in last conference.”
For talks to progress, the Burma Army has demanded that EAOs promise they will not attempt to secede from the Union, and will only recognize a single, unified army made up of EAOs integrated into the Burmese military—a demand that EAOs have opposed given the current circumstances.
A major drawback in peace talks, Sai Kyaw Nyunt added, was that informal discussions about building a genuine federal Union were also blocked at the last Union Peace Conference, despite this being necessary “to restore peace in this country.”
A future conference must be held urgently and also yield meaningful results, he explained.
“If we can do it as soon as possible, it’s better. If we hold a conference without commitment, then it will be nothing… We want to hold the conference with truth and commitment,” Sai Kyaw Nyunt said.