Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) Chairperson Khun Htun Oo criticized Burma’s draft Framework for Political Dialogue (FPD) yesterday for a lack of inclusivity, as the plan was submitted to President Thein Sein by a working group.
“This way, it will be like the Two Trees Convention that was held by the military in the past,” the 72-year-old former political prisoner said, referring to Burma’s National Convention, a process initiated in 1993 to write a new national constitution and which ended with the much-criticized 2008 Constitution.
The process became known in Burmese as the Nyaung Hna Bin Convention, or Two Banyan Trees, symbolizing the two participants initially invited to the process: the National League for Democracy—who were later expelled in 2005—and the Burmese military.
Conspicuously absent, Khun Htun Oo, said, were ethnic representatives from non-state armed groups and political organizations.
“It is more like a conference during the military government’s time,” he said of the current political dialogue draft.
The framework, which is intended to contribute to the development of a federal union, was designed over the last eight months during a series of meetings in Naypyidaw, the country’s capital, according to the Pyidaungsu Institute. The draft was written by the Union Political Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC), which is made up of ethnic signatories to Burma’s Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) and government representatives.
The FPD allows for the participation of 700 individuals, including 150 representatives each from government and Parliament, the military, political parties, the eight ethnic armed groups who signed the NCA. Also present will be 50 ethnic leaders and 50 advisors, by invitation.
Burma has more than 20 ethnic armed groups; according to the draft FPD, non-signatories to the NCA are invited to attend the country’s political dialogue only as observers, raising concerns from organizations like the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), a coalition of ethnic armed groups, that had hoped to participate in the dialogue drafting process before it was submitted to the President.
The draft FPD states that initial talks are scheduled to begin in mid-January, in accordance with the NCA, with further talks anticipated for late 2016.
By Shan Herald Agency for News Staff (S.H.A.N)