Myanmar’s Panglong Peace Conference to Begin on Aug. 31

myanmar-assk-min-aung-hlaing-handover-ceremony-mar30-2016.gif Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi (C) and military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (R) arrive for the handover-of-power ceremony at the presidential palace in Naypyidaw, March 30, 2016.

Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi announced Monday that the 21st-Century Panglong Peace Conference will begin on the last day of August and run for five days in the capital Naypyidaw.

“We intend to hold the 21st-Century Panglong Conference on August 31,” said Zaw Htay, spokesman of the President’s Office.

A management and support group was formed during the meeting of the conference’s central committee in Naypyidaw to hold the Panglong Conference at the President’s House for the convenience of meeting attendees, he said.

“The conference’s central committee for the 21st-Century Panglong Conference formed a group today to manage and provide support during the conference,” he said.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader, chairs the central convening committee which the President’s Office created on Aug. 3.

Additional details about the Panglong Conference will be approved during the meeting of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) on August 15, Zaw Htay said.

Aung San Suu Kyi heads the 18-member UPDJC, composed of armed ethnic groups that signed a nationwide cease-fire agreement (NCA), political party representatives, and government representatives, which is overseeing the drafting process of the framework for political dialogue.

She is spearheading the country's efforts to hold the peace talks to end civil war by fostering national reconciliation and peace among the country’s various armed ethnic groups and the government military.

The Lady and the military commander

On Monday afternoon, Aung San Suu Kyi held her first official meeting in her capacity as state counselor with the country’s military commander-in-chief to discuss the Panglong Conference and ending the ongoing clashes between armed ethnic soldiers and national army troops in northern Myanmar’s Kachin state and the northern part of Shan state.

She and Senior General Min Aung Hlaing discussed national reconciliation, peace, and the rule of law in Myanmar during their two-hour conversation.

Vice-Senior General Soe Win, deputy commander-in-chief of the Myanmar military; Lieutenant General Ye Aung, minister of border affairs; attorney general Tun Oo; Tin Myo Win, chairman of the government’s Peace Commission; Lieutenant General Mya Tun Oo, chief of military intelligence; and Lieutenant General Soe Htut, the military attorney general, also attended the meeting, the online journal The Irrawaddy reported.

The meeting between Aung San Suu Kyi and Min Aung Hlaing occurred the same day that Kachin Independence Army (KIA) troops ambushed and killed seven government security officers near the town of Kamaing in Kachin state, according to a police official.

“Our security police were attacked with small arms and landmines along the road by KIA,” said police Lieutenant Colonel Myo Thura Naung.

Six other officers and a driver were injured, he said.

“We were attacked several times by the KIA at our police station,” he said.

Colonel Tant San of the KIA said the attacks were not intentional.

“I don’t think our troops attacked the police intentionally,” he told RFA’s Myanmar Service. “We have had columns moving back and forth in the region for several days. It’s my understanding that our columns and these police officers had met.”

USDP meets

Meanwhile, the former ruling, military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) began a two-day workshop on national reconciliation, peace and the formation of a federal union with ethnic unity on Monday at the party’s headquarters in Naypyidaw.

USDP spokesman Khin Ye said party members decided to hold the workshop to discuss what they will to avoid delays at the Panglong Conference when various stakeholders submit different discussion topics.

“We want peace as soon as possible,” Khin Ye said. “There will be many groups during the conference, such as the government, the military, and political parties, and they will talk, discuss and argue. We discussed today how we can help not to delay discussions during the conference.”

Former president Thein Sein attended the workshop and talked about the peace process that his administration had worked on.

Thein Sein brokered the NCA signed by eight of the country’s 15 armed ethnic groups last October to end their hostilities with the Myanmar military. Other groups refused to sign or were excluded because of ongoing clashes with government troops.

Reported by Wai Mar Tun, Myo Thant Khine, Kyaw Thu and Kyaw Myo Min for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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