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KSPP Parliamentarian Discusses ‘Mixed Feelings’ About Election Victory, Peace Process

Duwa N’Shang San Awng, a Kachin peace mediator turns a politician.

Duwa N’shang San Awng of the Kachin Peace-talk Creation Group (PCG) was elected as a Kachin State parliamentarian for Sumprabum Township’s Constituency 2 in Burma’s general election on November 8. He belongs to the Kachin State People’s Party (KSPP).

His organization, the Kachin PCG, has been serving as a mediator between the Burmese military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) regarding issues of peace and conflict.

KNG spoke to N’shang San Awng about his new role, what he brings to the legislature as a PCG mediator, and his thoughts on another term by the National League for Democracy (NLD) government.

You used to work with the Kachin PCG, and now you have become a parliamentarian. What pushed you to work as an MP?

I used to work on the peace process during U Thein Sein’s government term. After that, I continued to work on the peace process during the NLD government’s administration. But there were military operations in Kachin State. Mutual trust has dropped to very low levels. We need to rebuild mutual trust and peace. That’s why I decided to participate in the election and become a parliamentarian.

You contested for election in Sumprabum Township Constituency 2. Now you have been elected to represent this area. How does this feel?

I used to live in Sumprabum when I was young. I can’t see that anything has changed. I do not see any development in Sumprabum. I want to see the development of this region. In my opinion, mutual trust is so important to the peace process. That’s why I ran as an electoral candidate with the KSPP in the election. Our party ran for election in all of the constituencies in Kachin State. I think if we had won the majority seats in Kachin State, we could bring peace to Kachin State as soon as possible. We have won three to four seats in the election; we are happy about it. I am worried that we will be weak in implementing the peace process. I have mixed feelings: happy about winning the election and worried about the peace process.

What are you going to be able to implement in parliament?

We expected we would win a majority of seats in Kachin State, so we would actively implement peace, unity and development. Now the NLD has won the majority of seats. They can do whatever they want. As the opposition, we will continue to hold discussions and work with them. I do believe that peace will be restored in our country.   

What’s your plan regarding continued work with the PCG?

PCG is still exists to implement the peace process. My mind is still there. I don’t know whether the NLD government will allow us to work with them. I don’t know whether the NLD government accepts ethnic reconciliation. It depends on them.

What is your assessment of the peace process during the NLD government’s last five-year term?

They have both weak and strong points. If we could highlight their weaknesses and discuss it with them, I think it would be positive.

Are there any final points you’d like to make?

I used to be a mediator in the peace process, then I ran for election. I have joined the KSPP. I hope we can build trust. I will try my best to restore peace to our country.

On the other hand, we have to wait and see the moves by the NLD government. If they don’t hold discussions with ethnic people, I don’t think it will be successful.

They must talk with ethnic people. They need to put ethnic rights in the Constitution. If they can negotiate and hold discussions with ethnic armed organizations, there will be a successful peace process. If not, I am worried there will be more intensifying clashes in ethnic regions.

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