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Ethnic reconciliation talks planned, says Myanmar

May 23. 2012
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By The Nation

Myanmar is planning to hold an all-inclusive ethnic conference to discuss national reconciliation and the future of ethnic minorities in the union, according to a Union Minister.

Speaking to reporters after peace talks with Shan representatives last week, Rail Transport Minister Aung Min said the government’s peace negotiation team would organise the ethnic conference after all groups reached peace agreements with the government.

“We will try to fulfill the demand of our national brethren in line with the constitution though the future conference,” Aung Min was quoted as saying by Eleven Media’s website.

Myanmar’s current regime under President Thein Sein has reached a truce with all ethnic groups, except the Kachin, and is now in the process of implementing the peace agreement.

The latest peace talks were held on May 19 in Kengtung between the government representatives led by Aung Min and the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) led by Yawd Serk.

The peace talks will be in three steps. The initial step will be at state level, the second step at union level and the final step would be in parliament with all ethnic groups sitting with the government to determine their future.

Shan peace talks were held at the union level while many other groups such as Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Peace Council were still at the primary state level.

“We have now agreed with some ethnic groups for a ceasefire as a first stage. The second stage will include programmes of development, settlement, rehabilitation and political dialogue,” Minister Aung Min said.

“These are basic foundations for future steps. We need to resolve these 60-year-old problems. In the third stage, we will try to hold an all-inclusive ethnic conference,” he said.

The minister said that the planned conference was expected to be held in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw.

Executive committee member of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) peace council, Timothy Laklem, suggested recently that Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi should actively participate in the ethnic conferences to ensure all agreements would be honoured.

In the peace talks in Kengtung, the SSA reached a 12-point agreement with the government, including cooperation to eradicate narcotics, conducting of joint surveys, promotion of Shan literature and culture, legalisation of the RCSS/SSA, establishment of Shan media and the freeing of all Shan political prisoners.

The government invited the Shan group to set up a political party to participate in the next general election in 2015.

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