Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday announced the formation of a new government peace organization called the National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC) to fast-track preparations for a major peace conference slated for July, an official who attended the meeting said.
Kyaw Tint Swe, minister of the State Counselor’s Office, will oversee the new peace team, which replaces the Myanmar Peace Center (MPC) to get ready for a “21st-century Panglong Conference,” said MPC senior advisor Hla Maung Shwe.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s father, General Aung San, held talks known as the Panglong Conference in February 1947 to grant autonomy to the Shan, Kachin and Chin ethnic minorities, when he was head of the interim government.
But Aung San’s assassination in July 1947 prevented the agreements made during the conference from reaching fruition, and many ethnic groups took up arms against the central government in wars that ground on for decades.
The NRPC’s headquarters will be in Naypyidaw, and the Yangon-based MPC buildings will be used as an NRPC branch office, Hla Maung Shwe said.
“The names of the staff members who will serve at NRPC will be announced soon,” he said.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who is also foreign minister and minister of the President’s Office, made the announcement during a meeting in Naypyidaw, where she also said two subcommittees would be formed—one for the armed ethnic groups that signed a nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) last October and another for those who did not, Hla Maung Shwe said.
“The current government has the advantage of working on peace, and we understand that it is going to get better,” he said.
Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader, has made peace and national reconciliation between the national army and various armed rebel groups, and among the rebel groups themselves, a priority of the government under her National League for Democracy (NLD) party.
Eight armed ethnic groups signed the NCA with the previous military-backed government, but others refused to join or were excluded because of ongoing hostilities with the Myanmar army.
The MPC, which provided technical support to the peacemaking process, received most of its funding from foreign donors.
In early May, the eight armed ethnic groups that signed the NCA met informally with the Myanmar government’s new peace envoy Tin Myo Win to discuss their position on the peace process and the refashioning of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee, a 48-member body formed last November to implement political dialogue between the government and ethnic armed groups.
Reported by Kyaw Thu and Tin Aung Khine for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.