Shan State political dialogue rushed, politicians and EAOs say

Shan State politicians and ethnic armed organizations are furious that preparations for the state’s political dialogue were left to the last minute. With less than a week’s advance notice provided, the groups said that they did not have enough time to properly prepare.

“The Ministry of the State Counsellor’s Office came to negotiate with us to hold this dialogue via the Peace Commission. Committees led by the Shan State government have been formed. We have tried our best to prepare within the given time frame. We were informed on April 19 and had to organize immediately,” said U Myo Tun, Shan State Minister for Social Welfare.

The Shan State national-level political dialogue convened at Taunggyi’s City Hall from April 23 to 25.

U Myo Tun said because the preparations were so rushed the papers submitted for presentation may not have been as fully inclusive as desired.

“We have tried our best to cover all strata [of society]. Some might have been left out,” he said.

Nan Mya Oo, secretary of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy’s (SNLD) Taunggyi township office, criticized the time crunch.

“We couldn’t submit [our paper] as we had to collect the information in a hurry so we worry about it being incomplete. It’s impossible to write a paper that concerns the entire [Shan] people within a day or two,” he said.

In his speech, the Shan State Chief Minister U Linn Htut said that a total of 70 papers were submitted to the political dialogue by representatives of self-administered divisions/areas and districts. The submissions included 26 political papers, 23 economic papers and 21 papers on land and environmental conservation.

The Wa Self-Administered Division leading committee member U Yan Kyaw said, “We were only informed at night and we had to leave the next morning. It’s inconvenient for us. We had no time to prepare as we had to come in a hurry. We couldn’t read a complete [paper].  I’m not satisfied. The national-level dialogues are very important.”

The Restoration Council of the Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) and the PaO National Liberation Organization (PNLO) were the only two ethnic armed organizations to be invited to the dialogue.

PNLO chair U Khun Myint Tun said he thinks the ethnic armed organizations from Shan State that signed state-level and Union-level ceasefire agreements should have been invited as observers or special guests.

Over 400 representatives were invited to the Shan State national-level political dialogue.

Among Shan State’s ethnic groups, only the PaO people were allowed to hold an ethnicity-based national-level political dialogue. The government rejected a proposal to hold ethnicity-based political dialogues in Taunggyi and Panglong.

Translated by Thida Linn
Edited by Laignee Barron