Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi met for a third time with Myanmar’s military commander-in-chief on Wednesday following the landslide victory by her National League of Democracy (NLD) party in general elections last November, to discuss the rule of law and approaches to lasting peace in the Southeast Asian nation, which continues to be plagued by civil wars.
Aung San Suu Kyi, chairwoman of the NLD, held discussions with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing for more than an hour at the Paunglaung guest house in the Naypyidaw military command center, according to a post on the commander’s Facebook page.
The meeting came after a local media report last weekend that Min Aung Hlaing had secured his position as military commander for another five-year term.
No other details from Wednesday’s meeting were released.
The two met previously on Dec. 2 and Jan. 25 to discuss a peaceful transfer of power to the NLD from the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), although specifics about their conversations remain unknown. The NLD-led government will formally assume power on Apr. 1.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who has pledged to end the fighting between the government army and various autonomy-seeking armed ethnic groups, needs the cooperation of the country’s military, which controls a quarter of the seats in parliament and appointments to three key ministries.
Motion to end fighting
In the meantime, the lower house of parliament unanimously approved a motion on Wednesday to end fighting between the government army and armed ethnic groups in the Palaung Autonomous Region and surrounding area near the town of Kyaukme in northern Myanmar’s restive Shan state.
Sai Aung Tun, a lawmaker from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) party, who represents Kyaukme, made the motion on Tuesday. It was supported by 12 other lawmakers, including two military representatives.
Win Htoo, a lawmaker from the Palaung Autonomous Region, urged the incoming NLD-led government to hold a peace conference that includes all armed ethnic groups, and said it was the responsibility of the nationwide cease-fire agreement (NCA) monitoring group to end the hostilities and bring about peace.
The Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army-South (RCSS/SSA-S), which signed the NCA between the government and eight of the country’s armed ethnic groups last October, has been engaged in a new round of hostilities against the Palaung/Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) since Feb. 7.
The peace accord signed with Myanmar’s military-backed USDP was boycotted by seven of 15 ethnic groups that have battled Myanmar’s central government for decades in a bid for greater autonomy.
The Shan State Army-North, the second of the main Shan rebel armies, was among the groups that refused to sign the document, while the TNLA was excluded from the pact.
Myanmar’s army had teamed up with the RCSS, the political organization that oversees the SSA-S, after the group signed the NCA and launched an offensive against the holdout rebel TNLA army in Shan state.
During the parliamentary discussion, lawmakers called for aid and relief for the thousands of civilian refugees who have fled areas where the hostilities have occurred, following testimony about the situation from officials from government ministries and the President’s Office.
The TNLA has been battling the RCSS near Mong Wee village in Namhkam township since Nov. 27, when the SSA-S crossed into front-line territory and opened fire, the online journal The Irrawaddy reported.
More than 3,000 locals, including 300 students, have taken refuge in 17 shelters in Kyaukme, according to local media reports.
Reported by Myo Thant Khaing, Win Ko Ko Lat and Win Naung Toe for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Kyaw Min Htun. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.