Day Two. Friday, 25 March 2016
Five great enemies to peace inhabit with us:
Avarice, ambition, envy, anger and pride.
If these enemies were to be banished,
We should infallibly enjoy perpetual peace
Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374), Italian scholar-poet-humanist
Today’s session, under the chairmanship of Pu Zing Cung, President of Chin National Front (CNF), begins with encouraging news.
“Last night, we received a reply from DPN (Delegation for Political Negotiation, formed by the United Nationalities Federal Council),” announced the Coordination Team (CT) leader Padoh Kwe Htoo Win. “It says it will be happy to meet our representatives on Sunday, 27 March.”
The meeting, visibly buoyed by the report, does not take long to choose a mission as well as to fix the time and venue.
The delegation, dubbed the Delegation for Ethnic Unity (DEU), is to be headed by Khaing Soe Naing Aung, Vice Chair of the ALP. Members include Padoh Kwe, Yebaw Than Gay, Saw Kyaw Nyunt, Dr Lian, Dr Sui Khar and Mi Su Pwint.
(According to reports that came out after the meeting at Khum Phucome, 09:00-12:30, on Sunday, it had focused on the holding of another all EAO conference in the near future, and that the two sides will meet again in April to discuss the matter further.)
Next on the agenda are presentations made by the EAO JMC, headed by Dr Sui Khar and the EAO UPDJC, headed by Padoh Kwe, of their respective work plan for 2016. The following are the extracts:
- The JMC, that had so far formed 2 JMC-Ss (in Shan State and Tenasserim) will continue to form the remaining JMC-Ss (State level) and JMC-Ls (Local level)
- The UPDJC, meanwhile, will be holding public consultations at state and ethnic levels on different dialogue issues. It will, together with other UPDJC members from the government and political parties blocs, also be making preparations for the next Union Peace Conference, or the UPC#2
Other items on today’s agenda are Terms of Reference (ToR) for Liaison Offices (L.O.s), demarcation, finance, and the question of having a central steering committee.
ToR for LOs (discussion points)
- Liaison offices were established by mutual consent following bilateral ceasefire agreements starting in 2011. Some of the EAOs, though they have yet to sign the NCA, have their own liaison offices. These offices are responsible not only for military matters, but also those that are political, social, and development.
- On 5 March, the draft ToR for LOs was approved at the L.O meeting held in Pa-an, Karen State. It is summitted to the EAO8 Summit#2 for approval before presenting it to the JMC-U and, if further approved there, to the JICM for endorsement, before it comes into force
The draft is approved by the summit.
Demarcation (Discussion points)
- As long as there is no demarcation between each EAO and the army, more occurrences of accusations between the two sides can be expected
- Deployment and redeployment of forces on both sides are key questions to be considered when demarcation is being negotiated
- Demarcation does not cover only military units and their areas of operation, but also non-military entities such as public administration, health, education, etc and areas assigned to them.
This must not be forgotten when negotiations for demarcations begin.
The summit resolves that demarcation, deployment and redeployment shall be in accordance with the provisions of the NCA.
It is an area where my understanding appears to be the least, even if I say so to myself. Fortunately, the summit does not dwell long on the issue. It merely grants the work team to be formed later with the power to raise funds in accordance with the 7 point guideline laid down at Summit #1 last November.
They include, among others:
- No strings attached
- Centralized fund raising
On the question of having a steering committee (a tiger with teeth and fangs, so to say), each of the EAOs comes up with a different structure and job description.
Naturally, the rest of the day is spent in presenting and reviewing each different proposed structure by the participants.
I finish the day admiring the patience that are being exercised by the chair and the MCs. No peace can ever be achieved without it, I tell myself, who can boast very little of it.
By SAI KHUENSAI / Director of Pyidaungsu Institute and Founder of Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N)
All views expressed are the author’s own