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Ethnic groups see leading role for Suu Kyi in peace process
Publication Date : 24-08-2014
Leaders of armed ethnic groups are calling for opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to play a bigger role in the peace process, after she witnesses the signing of the nationwide ceasefire agreement expected to occur by the end of October.
The Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), which represents 16 armed ethnic groups in ceasefire talks with the government, said her participation in the peace process would make it go "smoothly".
The NCCT previously requested that she be present for the signing of the deal, expected by the end of October, but its leaders are now calling for the leader of the opposition the chairperson of the National League for Democracy to play a bigger role in the peace process.
NCCT member Colonel Khun Oukkar, from the Pa-O National Liberation Organisation, said Suu Kyi's could participate in the drafting of a framework for forming committees for the political talks that will follow the ceasefire.
"There will be a leading role or her in the post-ceasefire deal period, and she will serve as a witness at the signing of the ceasefire deal," he said.
NCCT leader Naing Han Thar said Suu Kyi would be committed to participating in the process if she was invited.
"As a prominent leader in the country, we all want to include her in the process," he added.
The NCCT is negotiating a nationwide ceasefire deal with the Union Peace-making Work Committee (UPWC), which is a critical step in the peace process but far from the last one, NCCT members have said.
"The peace process may last long time. We want to invite Aung San Su Kyi into the peace process, but the NCCT can do this only if the government gives the green-light," Naing Han Thar said.
"We can invite a person only when there is mutual agreement. For instance, both sides have agreed to invite UN special envoy to Myanmar Vijay Nambiar," he added, stressing that third parties can only be invited if both sides agree.
Union minister Aung Min, vice-chairman of the UPWC, told reporters that president Thein Sein had already invited Aung San Suu Kyi to take any role she wants in the peace process.
"We would be very happy with her participation in the peace process. She may be included in the process sometime in the future," he told reporters after a recent meeting with nearly 50 civil society groups in Yangon.
The NLD, however, says Suu Kyi has yet to receive an invitation. "Our chairperson has already said three times that she has a desire to participate in the peace process. As far as I know, they have yet to invite Aung San Suu Kyi," NLD spokesperson Nyan Win, the NLD's spokesperson said on August 18.
NCCT leaders Naing Han Thar, vice chairman of the New Mon State Party and Oukkar regularly meet Aung San Suu Kyi when they visit Yangon to attend peace talks. Maj-General Gwan Maw, deputy chief of staff of the Kachin Independence Organisation, attended their last meeting with her on August 18.
"We want a person like Aung San Suu Kyi to be included in the process after the ceasefire is signed. We have yet to invite her, but we will invite her at the right time," Gwan Maw said.
Meanwhile, the United Nationalities Alliance, a key coalition of ethnic minority groups, will urge the government, armed ethnic groups and ethnic parties to ensure a single text for a framework for the political dialogue that is expected to begin after a nationwide ceasefire is signed.
"We have had many frameworks. We want to urge them to make those frameworks a single one," its leader Aye Tha Aung said.
The government's Union Peacemaking Work Committee and representatives from armed ethnic groups are finalising a nationwide ceasefire agreement, and both sides have said it should be signed by the end of October.
Some political parties are reportedly already preparing for the political talks that will follow the ceasefire.
Zo Zan, who leads the Nationalities Brotherhood Federation - a coalition of more than 20 ethnic political parties - proposed a single framework during a meeting comprising representatives from the government, Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team and political parties at Myanmar Peace Centre in Yangon on August 18.