Absence of Political Dialogue in 2012 Troubles Ethnic Reconciliation Efforts


Absence of Political Dialogue in 2012 Troubles Ethnic Reconciliation Efforts

Saturday, December 29, 2012

As an eventful 2012 draws to a close, political talks between the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and Burmese Government remain unscheduled despite promises from the Burmese Government that such talks would be held in December, according to NMSP leaders.

Nai Htaw Mon (Chairman of the NMSP, Left), Aung Min (a minister from President's office, middle) and Ohn Myint (a chief minister in Mon State) met during Nippon Foundation donated humanitarian aid to Mon refugees on Dec.22 in Moulmein, capital of Mon State. (Photo Kaowao).

NMSP leaders told Kaowao that the Burmese Government has yet to inform them about scheduling political talks and their party’s chairman is dismayed that there has been no clarity offered regarding when to hold political talks.

“The Burmese Government did not contact us about scheduling political talks,” Nai Bayar Lai, an executive committee member from NMSP, told Kaowao. “They have only kept quiet on this issue.”

Lack of communication from the Burmese Government has propelled mistrust in the ethnic Mon party, as Nai Bayar Lai added, “They [Burmese Government] are people who are easy at giving promises, but then they don’t do anything according to these promises.”

Although Mon State has recently secured resources from outside groups, highlighted by a $70,000 humanitarian aid donation from the Nippon Foundation of Japan in Moulmein on December 22, many NMSP party officials firmly believe that change can only occur through political dialogue inside Burma. “We are still negotiating with the government about when to hold political talks, “Nai Htaw Mon said. “We cannot have political dialogue that is only one-sided."

The NMSP signed a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese Government on February 1, 2012. This agreement included a stipulation that both parties would hold political talks in December.

Aung Min, a minister from the President’s Office and Naypyidaw’s chief peace negotiator, admitted that even he did not know when to hold NMSP political talks and does not know how to proceed from here.

The Burmese Government announced earlier in 2012 that they had reached successful ceasefire deals with 10 ethnic armed groups, with intensive fighting only continuing in Kachin State between government troops and the Kachin Independence Army.

Earlier this year, the Burmese Government told the ethnic armed leaders to hold an ethnic conference, which would be attended by ethnic armed groups, democratic forces and government representatives, to discuss how to solve the ongoing ethnic conflict in Burma.

However, with a December deadline and under two-weeks left in the year, the Burmese Government seems content to remain uncommitted to holding the conference. The absence of a nationwide ceasefire has cautioned the government against holding a conference until all ethnic groups can participate.

Nai Htaw Mon echoed this sentiment, “We do not want to have a dialogue that is only ourselves, our NMSP. We continue to want all our alliance armed groups to participate together in political dialogue.”

Despite the efforts of the Burmese Government towards ethnic reconciliation, the imprint of recent history remains an impediment. NMSP leaders admit they are worried that the current reformist government led by President Thein Sein may act similarly to the preceding military regime, which ignored the requests of the ethnic groups and waited fifteen years after the first 1995 ceasefire to engage in political dialogue.



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