Political dialogue may be initiated before election

San Htoo Aung
Tun Nay Hlaing
Myanmar Elven May 25, 2015 1:00 am #block_media{ position:relative; display:block; clear:both; } #tab_photo,#tab_video{ display:inline-block; width:60px; height:auto; padding:3px; position:absolute; top:-25px; left:500px; text-align:center; background-color:#ccc; color:#000; cursor:pointer; z-index:0; } @-moz-document url-prefix() { #tab_photo,#tab_video{ top:-26px; } } #tab_video{ left:564px; } #block_media .tab_media_active{ background-color:#0c3e6f; color:#fff; } #slides_box,.box-vdo-top{ z-index:600; } If the nationwide ceasefire draft is ratified at the ethnic armed groups' summit in June, political dialogue may begin before the election, according to KNU secretary general Pado Saw Kwe Htoo Win. The KNU signed a pledge of peace and national reconciliation on Union Day (February 12).

"There are five principles in the pledge of peace and national reconciliation. We have to do our best to implement these five principles. If the draft of the nationwide ceasefire agreement can be confirmed at the summit of ethnic armed groups, the nationwide ceasefire agreement should be signed. If we can do that, we can go forward with political dialogue," said Pado Saw Kwe Htoo Win.

President Thein Sein urged political parties to offer assistance to ethnic groups in the process of signing the pledge of peace and national reconciliation at meeting with political parties on May 18 in Yangon.

Ethnic armed groups will convene in Law Khee Lar, the headquarters of the Karen National Union from June 2 to 6.

The final draft of the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) has already been approved by the Union Peacemaking Working Committee (UPWC) and the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), which is composed of 16 ethnic armed organisations.

As of May 21, the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army-Eastern Shan State (MNDAA/ESS), also known as Mongla ethnic armed group, are undecided whether to attend the summit. They are not NCCT members but are invited to attend the summit.

Although the Wa and Mongla groups did not attend previous ethnic summits to discuss the NCA, the UWSA/UWSP organised its own summit of 12 ethnic groups leaders in Panghsan, Shan State, from May 1 to 6. The summit addressed issues related to internal peace.

To end the civil wars, the armed groups have held a series of meetings. The first NCA summit was held at the headquarters of the KIO/KIA in Laiza, Kachin State, in October 2013, where the second summit was also held in July 2014. The third summit was held in Law Khee Lar, Kayin State, in January 2014.

The ceasefire signing is expected despite sporadic fighting with some ethnic groups.

Clashes broke out between the government troops and the combined forces of the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Arakan Army (AA) on February 10 in Laukkai in the Kokang Self-Administered Zone. Tens of thousands fled Laukkai, the zone's centre.

Due to the recent fighting in Kokang, teachers and departmental staff who were assigned different tasks in Laukkai, Konegyan and Mawhtike townships and nearby villages fled to their respective places of origin. They just returned last Thursday to reassume their duties in Laukkai and nearby township of Konegyan.

"Currently, teachers can't go to the villages. They must stay temporarily at the Tone Chaing Basic Education High School in Laukkai region. As for the children who have not taken their exams yet, we are going to announce the arrival of teachers to Laukkai. When the teachers arrive, we will invite the students and announce the exam date," said an officer from the Education Department in Lashio.

On the morning of May 20, 210 teachers left for Laukkai from the No 5 Basic Education High School in Lashio in a journey arranged by the government. Some went to Laukkai on their own motorbikes.

Other departmental staffs whose jobs are in Laukkai have already arrived and returned to work.

Local residents, including government employees, fled the clashes and took shelter at refugee camps in Thiri Mingala Mansu Shan monastery and Mansu Bamar monastery in the 12th Ward of Lashio.

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