EBO Political Monitors
- 31 January - 17 February 2017
The recent killing of NLD legal advisor Ko Ni, has come at a very inopportune time when the government is confronted with continued fighting between government forces and the Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs) and the need for stability in Rakhine State. The government has announced that a detailed and thorough investigation would be conducted to probe the incident and to bring justice to the perpetrators. The incident could prove to be a test for the government and its commitment to promoting rule of law. Whatever motive may have been behind Ko Ni’s death, the incident is indeed a set-back for the on-going democratization process and no doubt raises concerns among those advocating reforms and change. The incident should be taken seriously. The government will need to assure the public that such kinds of killings do not occur again. The NLD government together with the military will need to find ways to address such sensitive issues if national reconciliation and reforms are to be achieved.
- 9 - 21 January 2017
The government’s peace process training courses as well as the sub-national Ethnic Political Dialogue (Kayin) are being implemented as part of the national dialogue process and bringing genuine peace to the country. The NLD is keen to bring more ethnic armed organisations that have yet to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. However, the battles between government forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) will not augur well for the on-going peace process. Furthermore, the incident between a unit of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and groups from the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA, can only create further tensions. Furthermore, the operations against EAOs in the Kachin and Shan States can be seen as actions taken by the Tatmadaw that the NLD government may lack the authority to restrain. And as such, the government’s current measures to bring peace may fall short of its objectives. Similarly, the crisis in Rakhine State has not helped the government and the visit by the Special Envoy and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs to Bangladesh will no doubt contribute to resolving the issue. However, it is important to note that successive governments including the current government has failed to prevent the outbreaks of violent attacks. The formation and investigation by the Maungtaw Commission led by the Vice-President will not be sufficient to address the hostile and tense situation in the Rakhine State. The use of violence must stop.
Political Monitor 24 - 5 - 18 November 2016
The continued unrests in Rakhine State and the fighting between government forces and the Ta’ang Nationalities Liberation Army (TNLA) in Shan State paints a very dismal picture of the on-going national reconciliation process in Myanmar. The NLD government since taking office has taken measures including the convening of the 21st Century Panglong Union Conference but to date has failed to end the conflict. In seeking to resolve the array of conflicts, one key stakeholder stands out more than others – the Tatmadaw (military). The development and role of the Tatmadaw is indeed a crucial factor in Myanmar’s democratic transition and the role it has assumed in the everyday running of the country has been disputed. Under such circumstances, the visit and meeting between Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and General Mikhail Kostarakos of the European Military Council is indeed a positive step and future visits and exchanges should be encouraged. The international community should assist the NLD government in providing such cooperation programmes to transform the Tatmadaw to becoming an institution that serves the country and people. While the attempts to transform, this institution may seem like a tall order, further neglect and isolationist approaches could be detrimental. It therefore is important for both the NLD government and the international community continue to enage the Tatmadaw with a view to transforming the Tatmadaw into an army that serves, promotes and protects all those living in Myanmar irrespective of race, religion or ethnicity.
Political Monitor 23 - 16 October - 4 November 2016
State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi’s visits to Japan is yet another indication of the NLD government’s foreign policy in reaching out to seek the international community’s support in aiding the democratisation process in Myanmar. Similarly, the visit to China by Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing can be seen more as promoting and further consolidation of the Special Phaukphaw friendship between the two countries and that the maintaining and promoting of peace and stability of the border regions is a must if Myanmar’s on-going peace process is to succeed.
The Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) recently celebrated its one year anniversary though the continued fighting between the KNU and DKBA, the hostilities between the Tatmadaw and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the tension between the Wa and the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) does not bode well for Myanmar peace process. The NLD government on its part has been taken initiatives including the convening of the 21st Century Union Panglong Peace Conference, UPDJC meetings and holding conferences and talks with the key stakeholders involved. While diplomacy and negotiations have yet to bear fruit, the continued fighting will not serve to bridge the differences nor help in building trust. The government is now in a predicament of dealing with the Tatmadaw on one hand and the Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs) on the other. It is not only a difficult a balancing act but also one which is making little headway. Frequent meetings between the government and Tatmadaw have been positive though the reality of day to day running and handling of issues related to the peace process is proving to be contrary. And until such a time when both the government and Tatmadaw share the same position the national reconciliation process in Myanmar will remain elusive and difficult.
Political Monitor 22 - 21 September - 15 October 2016
Myanmar’s democratic transition has once again been thrown under the spotlight after three border posts were reportedly attacked, resulting in nine police officers killed in Maungtaw, Rakhine State. The government’s response to the recent outbreak has been cautious, while the security forces do not seem to be as restrained.
The violence comes weeks after the government appointed a commission, headed by the former UN Chief Kofi Annan to find ways to solve the issue in Rakhine State. The disturbances will not be welcome news for the Commission, but will now be expected to deliver and resolve these sensitive issues in order that its mandate and credibility be put under scrutiny and bring stability to the Rakhine State.
The government must as an urgent priority adopt policies and implement concrete steps to prevent such outbreaks of violence both for the short and long-term. The leadership on its part should take steps in making statements condemning all forms of religious hatred, violence and speech and adopt necessary laws. And if future communal conflicts are to be avoided the authorities should encourage dialogues between community leaders at all levels to improve community relations.
The volatile situation in Rakhine State can only hinder the country’s on-going political, social and economic reforms. And it therefore is crucial for the government to closely monitor the recent events in Maungtaw and to make sure that it does not spread to other parts of the country, as it did in 2012. And if it were to happen could represent a significant threat to the overall success of the transition, and has severely damaged the reputation of the government.
The issue will demand time and commitment and that there will be no easy fixes or quick solutions. However, failure to deal with the situation can have negative impacts for the whole country while at the same time could also jeopardize the on-going national reconciliation process.
The government is now confronted with a major challenge in restoring peace and stability to the Rakhine State and will also need to reconcile the Buddhist and Muslim communities while at the same time to ensure that all people irrespective of race, ethnicity, religion be granted their basic fundamental rights and freedoms.
Political Monitor 21 - 3 - 20 September 2016
The visits to the United Kingdom and the U.S. by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi can be seen as a shift in shaping Myanmar’s ties with the West. However, the visit by China’s Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission General Xu Qiliang to Myanmar is a stark reminder that the ‘special phauk-phaw’ Sino-Myanmar relations remains unchanged and that it will remain a key ally for Myanmar. How Myanmar implements its foreign relations with its northern neighbour and the West will indeed be pivotal to the democratic transition taking place in the country. The NLD needsassistance from both quarters in implementing its political, economic and social policies. It therefore will be very important how Myanmar will strike a right balance in implementing its foreign policy.
Political Monitor 20 - 20 August - 2 September 2016
The much publicised and highly anticipated 21st Century Panglong concluded after 4 days but without any significant outcome. However, the live TV coverage of the proceedings was welcomed by the participants. This was the first time in more than fifty years that they have been able to express their desires and pent up aspirations to a national audience without fear of being arrested and put in prison. The Conference is the first major initiative taken by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi since coming to power and provided opportunities to stakeholders involved in the peace process. The government has pledged to convene similar conferences every 6 month though the exact agenda and issues to be discussed at these meetings remain unclear. However, the recently concluded Panglong Conference must and should be seen more as one of the first steps towards genuine peace and much more remains to be done. Many have questioned and debated the convening of the Conference and to its objectives and goals. It is important to understand Myanmar’s civil war and conflicts have been on-going for over half a century and that if there is to be progress to achieve national reconciliation the true spirit and genuine spirit of the Panglong Agreement signed in 1947 should be honoured and implemented. More importantly, the Panglong Agreement is a legal document which needs to be accepted and a major factor and necessity is that the original co-owners of this agreement should have the same rights and treated equality. It therefore is crucial for the authorities to adopt and implement measures which aims to promote these goals and that all stakeholders involved irrespective of their origin, ethnicity, religion, race or culture be granted equal status and rights.
- 6 - 12 August 2016
The recent meeting between State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Defense Services Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing is a step in the right direction reflecting signs of hope that the government and Tatmadaw are keen to cooperate in promoting national reconciliation. Furthermore, news that the the the Tatmadaw is prepared to change its stance to the inclusion of the Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Arakan Army (AA) to attend the Panglong 21st Century Peace Conference is indeed significant and encouraging. It is important that all stakeholders in the peace process reassess their positions and take into consideration the interest of the country and people in order to achieve peace. While the Peace Conference to be convened at the end the month will see around 700 participants and observers presenting and promoting their positions and views towards the on-going peace process any substantive outcome from the Conference it will depend mainly on the NLD government, the Tatmadaw and the Ethnic Armed Organisations.
Political Monitor 18 - 30 July - 5 August 2016
The government in its effort to achieve national reconciliation has recently held talks with leaders from the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the National Democratic Alliance Army-NDAA (Mongla). While the talks are the first between the NLD-g0vernment and the two groups it should be seen a positive step in the right direction and that future talks also with other EAOs and groups should also be explored. While both the government and the UWSA and NDAA groups have expressed their desire to achieve peace the reality is that both sides and all stakeholders involved will need to make the necessary concessions and compromises if they are genuinely committed to peace. Whatever the case may be, the meetings will no doubt serve as a basis towards the national reconciliation process and that the government together with the Tatmadaw (military) will need to work hand in hand and more importantly adopt a common position and understanding in handling the on-going peace process. The task which lies ahead will be tested with the convening of the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference in the coming weeks.
Political Monitor 17 - 16 - 29 July 2016
The Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs) recently held in Mai Ja Yang, Kachin State was regarded as a precursor for the EAOs and other key stakeholders to prepare for the upcoming 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference later this month. Discussions onbasic principles for the constitution of a future federal democratic union ; basic principles for security and defence ; and the amendment, fine-tuning of Framework for Political Dialogue (FPD). However, a common position of the EAOs and stakeholders still remains an issue which will need to be ironed out prior to the Panglong Conference. Currently, one of the key issues will be centered on the integration on the differenct positions being held by the 8 NCA signatories and the Non-Signatories of the NCA. If and how an understanding or compromise will be reached before the Panglong Conference will be in the hands of the leaders of the different Ethnic Armed Organisations. While time is of the essence, the EAOs will sooner or later need to produce a stand which represents and promotes the interests of the majority if not all. The government and military will no doubt be monitoring the outcome not only of the Mai Ja Yang Summit but also other meetings in the run up to the Panglong Conference while at the same time preparing its own position. The Panglong Conference is the first and most important initiative to be undertaken by the NLD government and that it could prove to be a crucial milestone in Myanmar’s efforts towards achieving national reconciliation and genuine peace.
Political Monitor 16 - 9 - 15 July 2016
Myanmar’s transition to democracy under the NLD led government has recently completed its 100 days in office and is now embarking on taking the initiative to hold the 21st Panglong Peace Conference with the aim of ending decades of fighting. While the Peace Conference may have assumed the main focus and talk of the town, it is important to note the recent coordination meeting chaired by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi to bring to peace, stability and development to Rakhine State is as equally as important. The situation in Rakhine State remains fragile due to the communal riots which also spread beyond its region to other parts of the country and which created a major challenge for the previous Thein Sein government. The NLD government will need to monitor closely the situation in the Rakhine State not only to diffuse the racial and religious tensions between the Buddhist and Muslim communities but also to put in place measures to counter future communal disturbances. Successive governments in the past have either ignored the issues prevailing in the Rakhine State or may have turned a blind eye to the situation which in turn has created friction and tension and thus even seeing the creation of nationalistic community based organisations. The NLD government has an array of tasks and challenges ahead and will need to adopt and implement clear policies on issues regarding race, religion and culture if it is to be seen as a promoter of democracy and basic human rights.
Political Monitor 15 - 1 - 8 July 2016
The government’s move to invite the Non-Signatory Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs) to the upcoming 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference is indeed a bold step in the right direction. However, the approach to integrate the Non-Signatories into the current Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) process remains to be seen. The meeting between the Union Peace Conference-21st Century Panglong Preparatory Committee and the United Nationalities Federal Council’s (UNFC) Delegation for Political Negotiation-DPN as well as the scheduled meeting between State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and the Chairman of United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) will also be crucial to the on-going peace process. The government on its part will need to tread carefully in its juggling act to integrate the Non-signatory Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs) into the current process and its handling of the three armed groups (AA, MNDAA & TNLA) could be crucial factors to the holding of the Peace Conference.
Political Monitor 14 - 18 - 30 June 2016
Preparations for the 21st Century Panglong Conference are moving ahead with the aim of bringing peace to the country. Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing’s comments to the Peace Process Steering Team (PPST) that the Tatmadaw will adhere to the Three Main Causes and that they will not deviate from the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement once again can be seen as reflecting the position of the military. State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi will now need to take on board such comments when dealing with both the 8 NCA signatories and the Non-NCA signatories. Her work will not be made easier in attempting to make the forthcoming peace conference to be inclusive. The government will need to overcome these challenges while at the same time trying to bridge trust between the military and ethnic armed organisations. Leaders from the government, military, ethnic armed organisations as well as civil society in the past have adhered to distinct and persistent mindsets regarding the on-going peace process. It therefore is important that the State Counsellor as the key and prominent leader of the Conference finds ways to accommodate the interests of all stakeholders while on the other hand the stakeholders themselves will need not only to have the political will but also be prepared to make comprises.
Political Monitor 13 - 5 - 17 June 2016
The government’s preparations to hold the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference is slowly gaining momentum with various meetings including the preliminary discussions on the framework for political dialogue as well as stakeholder’s meetings. The meeting will be one of the first major initiatives taken by the NLD government regarding the peace process though the success and outcome as well as the participants who will attend still remains unclear. The government will also need to seek the support of the Tatmadaw in this process and show flexibility in accommodating the stakeholders. Furthermor discussions on amending the current framework for political dialogue will also be key to the discussions at the Conference. At this crucial juncture in time, peace remains a priority for Myanmar and the holding of the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference will need strong commitment and sincerity by all but more importantly the leadership of the government and support of the military will be crucial to its success.
Political Monitor 12 - 21 May - 4 June 2016
The invitation extended to leaders from the non-signatory groups to join the political dialogue process and the 21st Century Panglong Conference to be held soon is indeed encouraging. The government’s initiative should be welcomed and be seen as an olive branch but continued fighting between government forces and EAOs as well as intra-ethnic clashes in Shan and Kachin States will not give encouragement to the non-signatory groups in making their decision to participate in the Conference. The plan to hold the 21st Century Panglong Conference will indeed provide the much needed momentum and push in the right direction and serve as a platform for further talks and discusssions in achieving national reconciliation and peace in the country. However, it crucial that the Conference is able to deliver concrete results but more importantly allow wider participation of stakeholders with aim of raising their concerns and interests. The government is now taking the lead in moving the peace process forward but it remains to be seen if the key stakeholders including the Tatmadaw, ethnic armed organistions (EAOs) and stakeholders are genuinely committed towards the process and willing to make compromises.
Political Monitor 11 - 7 - 20 May 2016
Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing’s comments on the conflicts in Kachin State, the olive branches extended to the Taang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Arakan Army (AA) and the Myanmar National Defense Army (MNDA) as well as the role of the military in safe guarding the Three National Causes can be regarded as indicators reflecting the Tatmadaw’s position on developments in the country. His pledge to work with the government to bring peace to the country is indeed encouraging though the recent skirmishes between the Tatmadaw and several ethnic armed groups as well as the intra-ethnic battles in the Shan State runs contrary to this pledge. State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi has also stressed on the need for participation of all stakeholders in the national reconciliation and peace process. While the comments are valid and crucial the fact that the realization of ‘an all inclusive’ process has failed to materialize. It therefore is crucial for the NLD government to implement such initiatives not only to show its democratic principles of transparency but more importantly the words of the State Counsellor are able to deliver on the realization of such initiatives.
Political Monitor 10 - 24 April - 6 May 2016
The visits to Nay Pyi Taw by the Japanese Foreign Minister and USAID Administrator are indications and positive signs that the international community is ready to assist Myanmar in its transition from military to civilian rule. However, the array of sensitive and criticial issues left unresolved from the previous administration including that of the peace process and political reforms will and should be addressed with care. The recent demand by the United Wa State Army (UWSA) to include China in future peace talks following talks with a delegation from the National League for Democracy (NLD), in which the latter has watered down as an unofficial visit without the party’s approval. Whatever, the case maybe, the notion to include China will raise eyebrows within the military ranks but how the NLD government will respond will be monitored closely by both the 8 NCA Signatories and Non-signatories’ groups. The acceptance or refusal for third party intervention in the country’s peace process has in the past been seen as a non-starter and thus if and to what extent the government is prepared to accommodate such demands by the UWSA and other EAOs will be a test for both the government and the military but more importantly to see if the two can genuinely build trust and cooperate in promoting the interest of the country.
Political Monitor 9 - 10 - 23 April 2016
President Htin Kyaw in his New Year Message once again highlighted the need and importance of national reconciliation and peace. However, coupled with myriad of issues starting from democratic reforms, political, economic, social issues as well as sustainable and genuine peace, the tasks ahead for his government will not be easy. National reconciliation is an issue deeply rooted to issues related to the ethnic nationalities and the deprivation of their rights practiced by successive governments. The NLD-led government will therefore need to adopt a different approach from its predecessors and promote the diverse interests of the ethnic nationalities groups if it is to achieve national reconciliation and peace. In order to do so, the government will need to implement ‘an all-inclusive dialogue’ not only with the parliamentary circles but also within the public domain with all stakeholders having the opportunity to express their views and opinions. More importantly, compromises by all stakeholders will be crucial if the on-going peace process is to be successful. Many think that making compromises is a form of surrender and thus are reluctant. This mindset and way of thinking should be avoided and it should be seen more as a way to move forward while at the same time maintaining one’s principle and objectives. It remains to be seen as to what extent the new government is willing to make compromises while at the same time needing to strike a balanced and amicable relationship with the military (Tatmadaw). This once again highlights the role of the military in the running of the country and that the government will need to consider that any action or measures taken to not undermine the military’s interests as well as its support. The new government has yet to define its agenda on the peace process but it remains to be seen as if it can bring peace and national reconciliation to the country.
Political Monitor 8 - 2 - 9 April 2016
The visit by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi as the first foreign dignitary to be received by the new NLD administration in Nay Pyi Taw is a reflection that Sino-Myanmar relations will remain a priority for both nations. However, relations between the two countries in recent times and especially during the term President Thein Sein has been strained and to what extent Beijing can accommodate Myanmar remains to be seen. The visit by Chinese FM Wang Yi will no doubt be based on reassuring the authorities in Nay Pyi Taw of China’s goodwill to promote and further strengthen the fraternal Pauk-phaw friendship. Myanmar’s political transformation from military-rule to democratic governance is still in its early days and due to the complex nature of institutions and different stakeholders with varied interests, the government will need to adopt a different approach from that of its predecessors in dealing with China. In this regard, attention should be given to resolve the long-standing armed conflicts between the Myanmar government and the EAOs and other armed militia groups along the border near Yunnan Province. It, therefore, is crucial that if the Sino-Myanmar relations are to improve they should enter a new phase in accordance with international standards of mutual respect, transparency and social accountability. Furthermore, the recent shift by Myanmar towards the West and the international community will no doubt have given Beijing some concern and it now faces strategic rivalry to maintain and gain influence over Nay Pyi Taw as the number of suitors have grown. Sino-Myanmar relations will be tested during the term of the NLD government and China can expect to see greater challenges as it strives to promote its interest in Myanmar. And is so doing, Beijing will need to balance its short-term interests and long-term values when dealing with Myanmar.
Political Monitor 7 - 20 March - 1 April 2016
Myanmar’s first step towards democratisation has been achieved with the swearing into office of President Htin Kyaw and formation of a democratically elected government. The new government in contrast to its predecessors has the support of the country as well as the international community though it will need to prove its true credentials in running the country by upholding the principles of transparency and accountability. An important task for the NLD government from the outset is to establish a good working relationship with the Tatmadaw (military). While attempts have been made it would seem that much more needs to be done and regular meetings between Aung San Suu Kyi and the Commander-in-Chief could contribute in bridging the differences of views and opinions. The government will need to be tactful in addressing and implementing the high expectations of the people. Any failure could have negative consequences on the party’s future political ambitions.
Political Monitor 6 - 13 - 19 March 2016
The proposal to down-size the government structure from over 30 ministries to 21 is seen by many to be positive. But the reality in merging the day to day operations could prove to be otherwise. While the proposal to streamline government ministries is being implemented as an austerity measure, it is important to note that at a time of transition and with a civil service that has not been fully functional, the new govermment will need to adopt and implement measures to educate, develop and transform the civil service if the mergers are to be successful. Past governments have resorted to authority and power whereas the NLD-government will need to adhere and promote democratic principles. To do so, the civil service must become a crucial part of the new government’s first line of defenders and promoters. In the past, due to mismanagement, Myanmar’s civil service has been unable to serve the interests of the public and inefficient. It therefore is crucial that if the President-elect’s proposal is to succeed; it should be done in a way not only to save the government’s coffers but also include measures and initiatives to promote the development and capacity of the civil service.
Political Monitor 5 - 27 February - 12 March 2016
Myanmar’s nomination of the candidates for President and Vice-Presidents has been completed with two NLD representatives and one from the Tatmadaw. While the process can be seen as straight forward the nomination of the Tatmadaw representative Myint Swe has drawn criticism due to his close ties with the former military leader Senior General Than Shwe. However, the Tatmadaw on its part has the right to choose whoever it wants. Whatever the case maybe, the three candidates will need to work with one another as well as with the parliaments if the country’s new found democratic institutions are to fulfil the aspirations of the people. While expectations of the newly elected NLD government is high, it is also important for the public at large to understand the basic principles of democracy. And to that end, the government will need to take the lead to implement educational programmes and initiatives to educate the citizens of their rights as well as their duties. This task coupled with promoting political, economic, social changes and other major challenges including national reconciliation and ending decades of conflicts will not be easy and smooth. How the NLD led government will handle and resolve these issues remains to be seen but will need to seek the support of all stakeholders involved if its tenure in office is to be successful.
Political Monitor 4 - 13 - 26 February 2016
The statement by the Union Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC-U) stating that it would take action against any violators of the National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) and the recent skirmishes between the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army-South (RCSS-SSA-South) and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) are signs that the mechanisms established by the on-going peace process is beginning to take effect.
The motion tabled in parliament by MPs as well as the offer made by the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N) to mediate between the two groups to reach a political solution also provides some hope that a peaceful solution can be found.
The continued fighting between the ethnic armed organisations and also with the Tatmadaw (military) does not augur well for the country’s future. Although seen by some as being non-inclusive, the NCA is the only available mechanism to promote peace and national reconciliation with the right to “self-determination, self-autonomy and equality” being taken on board. It therefore will be important for the next government to address and to accommodate such demands and at the same time strike the right balance and close cooperation with the military to resolve the challenges facing Myanmar.
Political Monitor 3 - 31 January - 12 February 2016
The beginning of the parliamentary sessions of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (Union) comprising of the Pyithu Hluttaw (Lower House) and Amyotha Hluttaw (Upper House) has been regarded many as being significant in two ways: firstly, the introduction of many democratically elected MPs to both houses of parliament, but also more importantly hailed as a 'very important step forward' in the country’s transition to democracy. While the convening of parliamentary sessions can be seen as a development and factor in contributing to Myanmar’s on-going reform process, many major challenges and impediments still remain for the realisation of a democratic and civilian government to take reins in the country. The country’s recent past marred by ethnic conflicts as well as mismanagement by successive military governments will now entrust its new legislators to address a spectrum of problems and no doubt the transition to a more open society will not be easy. Key issues include the continued implementation of the recently signed Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), national reconciliation and the role of the military in the country’s democratic reform process. Hopes and expectations of the nation and the international community for the two houses of parliament, to deliver and transform Myanmar into a democratic nation remain high. However, it is crucial that the new government and the two houses of parliament work hand in hand but more importantly to adopt and implement measures in promoting fundamental basic human rights as well as accountability and transparency.
Political Monitor 2 - 16 - 30 January 2016
The meeting between the Commander-in-Chief Ming Aung Hlaing and NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi is a reflection on the status of play to unfold in Myanmar in the coming years. The NLD while having the chance to form the next government will need to count on the support and cooperation of the military if its tenure in office is to be successful. While the details of the meeting between the two leaders remain undisclosed, it is a clear sign that both the NLD and the military (Tatmadaw) will need to work together in resolving and implementine democratic reforms as well as addressing sensitive issues including the on-going peace process. Myanmar is set to embark on a new chapter in its history and in the coming months to usher in the first democratically elected government in nearly half a century. That being said, the country’s past history should not and cannot be erased and the realisation that the role of the military in the running of the country will not be changed overnight and that cooperation and mutual respect between the NLD and the military will be crucial. The continued clashes between ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) does not bode well for the peace process and once again emphasizes that the NLD led government will need adopt and implement clear policies but more importantly seek to establish good relations with all stakeholders and prove to the people that it can deliver on its election promises.
Political Monitor 1 - 1 - 15 January 2016
The Union Peace Conference has been convened bringing together representatives from the government, MPs, politicians, Tatmadaw and Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) and was mandated to tackle 5 main themese of politics, social issues, economy, security and environmental policy but more importantly to seeking a political solution to decades of internal conflicts in Myanmar. The Peace Conference and the peace process both play important roles in Myanmar’s political transition and will also be part of the transfer of power process due to take place in the coming months. The dicsussions and outcomes of the Conference while in itself will not be complete will serve as a basis for deliberations in the future. How the NLD will deal with these issues will determine the success or failure of the peace process. The Commander-in-Chief’s recent comments that ‘there will only be one army’ should be seen as a stark reminder not only on the role of the Tatmadaw in Myanmar’s political future but also the integration of EAOs armies. This idea of integration however will not go down well with the EAOs and that this issue will need to be handled with care especially at a such a crucial juncture in time when trust-building between the government including the Tatmadaw and EAOs is still lacking after decades of mistrust. The new government will therefore need to tread carefully in its dealings with the Tatmadaw and EAOs and that failure or any shortcomings could affect its running of office during the next 5 years.
Political Monitor 31 - 5 - 19 December 2015
The date to convene the Union Peace Conference could prove to be the laying of the foundation for Myamar’s national reconciliation process while at the same time become President Thein Sein’s final contribution in the country’s reform process before leaving office. While a committee has been formed to ensure the smooth transition of power many details will need to be ironed out before the newly elected NLD-government is sworn into office. Even after a government is formed the deliberations in parliament in nominating and election of the President and 2 Vice-Presidents could still become challenges for the incoming government. The role once again of the military (Tatmadaw) will become crucial and how the NLD government handles its ties will be the one of the major challenges for NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi in the next five years. However, the fact that the NLD is been regarded as a democratically elected government will go a long way in help shaping Myanmar’s political future and that the understanding and assistance of the international community will be needed if the current on-going reforms process is to be successful and sustainable.
Political Monitor 30 - 23 November - 4 December 2015
The meetings between President Thein Sein, Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing and NLD Chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi can be seen as positive steps towards a smooth transfer of power in the coming months. If indeed the current leadership and incoming government are truely committed to national reconciliation then such meetings will proved to be crucial. The on-going peace process will also have an impact on the transfer of power and as such the inclusion of the Non-signatories to the existing National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) as well as the discussions being done towards the Political Framework Dialogue will also be needed. The current developments prevailing in Myanmar are so vast that time and patience will be of the utmost importance and that the inclusion and contribution of all stakeholders will be needed if the country’s democratic transition is to be successful. However, the transition will not be successful without the cooperation and collaboration of the Tatmadaw and that the coming weeks or months will see if the military is indeed committed to in transforming the country from decades of military rule to a democratic state.
Political Monitor 29 - 15 - 22 November 2015
The selection of 16 party representatives from 91 political parties to be included in the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) is a step in bringing more stakeholders into the peace process. Similarly, the formation of the 26-member Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) once up and running will become a crucial part of the implementation of the National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). While much more remains to be done, the (JMC) at the outset should seek to establish concrete and sustainable measures to prevent clashes similar to those currently taking place in Kachin and Shan States. It will also be important that the mandate and functions of the JMC be defined clearly and accepted by all stake-holders involved in the conflicts. This is a critical juncture in time. President Thein Sein’s government is set to conclude its term in office in January and preparing the transfer of power to a new government. Since the existing NCA is the only legal document which can best serve in promoting peace and national reconciliation, the new government needs to adopt the NCA as its own. Otherwise, the peace process could unravel. Myanmar is now set to enter a new chapter in its history by ushering in a democratically elected government.The transformation of conflicts to peace will be a major concern and test to define the new government in waiting.
Political Monitor 28 - 1 - 14 November 2015
The people of Myanmar have shown their desire for change and voted overwhelmingly for the National League for Democracy (NLD) party in what has been deemed as the freest and fairest elections in Myanmar. While the Union Election Commission has yet to make its final and official announcement on the outcome of the elections, current indications are that the NLD will have control of both the Pyithu Hluttaw (Lower House) and Amyotha Hluttaw (Upper House) of parliament. This means that the NLD will name 2 of the 3 Presidential candidates with the Tatmadaw naming one. This will more or less ensure that one of the NLD’s candidate will be elected by the whole Parliament to become the next President of Myanmar. President Thein Sein and the Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing have stated their willingness to accept the election results and to ensure a smooth transition of power.
The transition of power will however be not free from obstacles or challenges. Decades of military rule will not be easily eradicated. The success of Myanmar’s democratic evolution will depend on how the NLD leadership works with the Tatmadaw.The relationship between the NLD and the military will not be easy and will take time to resolve.
In spite of the massive election victory, the people in Myanmar should not be over-excited. It will be a difficult transition from decades of military rule to a more open society. Furthermore, the new government will also be confronted with a myriad of unresolved and contentious issues including ethnic conflicts, racial and religious riots, corruption as well as dealing with the role of the military (Tatmadaw) in shaping the country’s future. The support and understanding of the people and the international community will proved to be pivotal. It is therefore crucial from the outset that the new government state clearly its goals and visions and formulate policies and strategies in seeking to address Myanmar’s decades of mismanagement.
The new government when it takes power in March 2016, will face pressure from all sides domestically and internationally. Expectations to deliver genuine changes and democratic reforms will be extremely high. The NLD will therefore need to adopt policies that will help to promote fundamental human rights, bring development to far-flung areas and prosperity to the entire country. The recent elections reflect the hope the people have in Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for a brighter future. Meeting all the expectations in a short time will be a challenge.
Political Monitor 27 - 17 - 30 October 2015
More than 6,000 candidates from more than 90 political parties, many of them representing ethnic minorities who comprise nearly 40 percent of the population, will be competing for 498 seats in the Pyithu Hluttaw (Lower House) and Amyotha Hluttaw (Upper House) in the highly anticipated and much publicised Myanmar elections on 8 November. Irrespective of the outcome of the election, the holding of the elections itself should be seen as milestone for Myanmar’s emerging democracy and will have significant ramifications for its democratic reform process. To date, there is significant improvement in the conduct of the elections in sharp contrast to the previous elections in 2010. The election will also be the first and most competitive of its kind for over fifty years. This election should be taken seriously as a test to seek the genuine desire and will of the people. The government and its election watchdog have vowed to conduct free and fair elections. Their credibility and promises will become more clearer in the coming days. But however well-conducted these elections may turn out to be, it will not lead to transformational changes as many are expecting and hoping for. In this context the elections are just one pivotal and integral step in Myanmar’s path to democratic transition.
Political Monitor 26 - 3 - 16 October 2015
The signing of the NCA between the Government and the eight EAOs is historic. Never before since Myanmar gained independence in 1948, has any Government agreed to find a solution through a political dialogue, to the problem that has plagued the country for nearly seven decades. The Government and the Tatmadaw, have also agreed that the objective of the dialogue is to form a new federal and democratic nation, for which the 2008 Constitution will be changed. This is truly unprecedented since until as late as 2013, federalism was considered to be subversive and divisive. It was the very reason the military seized power in 1962 and Myanmar lost its democracy. Changing the 2008 Constitution was also taboo as can be seen by the recent vote in Parliament. More incredible is the Government’s concession that the EAOs can continue to carry arms during the political dialogue process (without being considered illegal) and that areas under their control would be developed only with their consent. If implemented, the NCA will pave the way for sweeping changes in the future.
But many have wondered if the NCA is valid since the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and the United Wa State Army (UWSA) amongst others have not signed the NCA. First, it should be noted that while the UWSA, NDAA (Mong La), NSCN-K (Naga) and the NMSP (Mon) did not sign the NCA, they have had bilateral ceasefires since the 1990s and have not fought a major battle for more than two decades. Thus there are now 12 groups that will not engage in battle. Three more that the Goverment has said can participate the political dialogue without signing the NCA because they are not engaged in armed struggle – ANC, LDU and WNO – brings the total to 15.
Three more – KIO, KNPP (Kayah/Karenni) and SSPP (SSA-N) – have said that they accept the NCA but are not yet ready to sign either because of not trusting the Government or because not everybody is included. The implementation of the NCA and the Open Door policy of the Government should in time then see them signing and participating in the political dialogue which all three want.
The most problematic are the remaining three – MNDAA (Kokang), AA (Arakan Army), and the TNLA (Ta-ang). They launched or re-launched their armed struggle after the Government initiated negotiations with the other groups in 2011. Because of this, the Tatmadaw is reluctant to include them in the NCA. But President Thein Sein has said he accepts in principle that they should be included. It now remains to be seen how the Government resolves this issue.
Second, the NCA is nationwide in nature irrespective of who signs it or not. Therefore, if the Government were to launch a major offensive against any or one of the non-signatories, the signatories have a right and a mechanism to address the issue. Thus the NCA is important.
The fact that the JICM was convened on the day that the NCA was signed and the JMC and UPDJC were formed the day after, bodes well for the implementation of the NCA. The first hurdles have been overcome. The question now is how the JMC will deal with the ongoing conflicts on the ground in northern Shan State and Kachin State, and how the ceasefire will be monitored in the other areas. Its effectiveness will add to confidence in the NCA.
The next hurdle is the adoption of a Framework for a Political Dialogue (60 days after the NCA signing – or by 14 December) and the initiation of a Political Dialogue (90 days after the signing – or by 13 January 2016). Unfortunately, the 8 November general elections will impact the adoption of the Framework. While much work has already been done to prepare for a common Framework acceptable to all stakeholders, none of the political parties (92 in all) will be able to devote any attention to its adoption until at least the 15 of November. This leaves only 28 days for its adoption. Similarly, given the possibility of a new government after the elections, the question arises as to what can be achieved by initiating a Political Dialogue in January. While this is a valid concern, not initiating a Dialogue will void the NCA. Thus a compromise may have to be reached for the old Government to initiate the Dialogue as called for by the NCA, to publicly endorse the agreed Framework and set into motion, the establishment of the necessary mechanisms, management bodies, secretariats, and thematic working groups, while leaving the actual Political Dialogue and negotiations, to the new Government.
The success of the democratic reform and national reconciliation process will, therefore, depend on the will of the political leadership including that of the Tatmadaw, and all other stakeholders, to make sacrifices and compromises in the interest of the country.
Political Monitor 25 - 20 September - 2 October 2015
The peace process has slowly but gradually made progress and indications that the signing of the NCA is imminent though questions on the number of Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs) willing to sign raises concern and doubts on the sustainability of the accord. However, the signing of the NCA in itself is a means to an end – in achieving peace but more importantly contributing towards national reconciliation in the country. While all stakeholders including the government, the military and EAOs may have different views and interests, the realisation that the peace process is a concern of the entire country and that the interests of the people should not be discarded. The continued clashes in the Shan State between government forces and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) does raise concerns and once again highlights the need by the government (the military) to control if not limit its operations during such crucial times. At a time when the olive branch is being extended it would be inappropriate to engage in unwarranted acts of aggression and at all costs be avoided if the NCA is to become the pillar for progress in Myanmar.
Political Monitor 24 - 5 - 19 September 2015
Efforts to finalise the Nationwide Ceasefire Accord (NCA) is now entering a critical stage and the recent meeting between President Thein Sein and EAOs leaders will indeed have given the process the much needed boost but more importantly contributed in building trust between the two sides. Furthermore, the invitation by the government to the Wa and Mongla groups to sign the NCA should be seen and received postively by the two groups and accepted in the interest of national reconciliation.
While the NCA may have taken the headlines, the focus of attention on the elections slated for 8 November still remains the date which will define Myanmar’s future in the coming years ahead. The Election Commission on its part has stated that arrangements and plans have been put in place to ensure free and fair elections though continued fighting and unresolved issues in conflict-affected areas raises further concerns and doubts regarding the credibility of the elections. After decades of self-imposed isolation, Myanmar’s democratization has made progress and that it is still in transition and that both the signing of the NCA and outcome of the elections will contribute to the success of the on-going democratic reforms in the country.
Political Monitor 23 - 29 August - 4 September 2015
Myanmar is preparing to hold national elections in early November 2015 and while there have been major improvements in election administration many uncertainties still remain. The forming of alliances and coalition are starting to emerge, but whether such alliances are able to garner votes come voting day remains to be seen. The Election Commission on its part is attempting to promote and hold free and fair elections and invitations to international electoral observers, as well as to domestic observers suggest that it is committed to delivering credible polls. Some areas in the country are still affected by continued fighting while others have been affected by the recent floods. The question on whether elections will take place in these areas still remain contentious and could prove to become yet another challenge for the Election Commission. Myanmar is now in transition and that the elections on 8 November will no doubt be regarded as major landmark event but more importantly should be seen as taking a positive step in the right direction.
Political Monitor 22 - 15 - 28 August 2015
Myanmar is now entering a critical and pivotal moment in its history, as it prepares for the signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Accord (NCA) and the holding of free and fair elections. The announcement that both the government and Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) are committed to sign the NCA represents a breakthrough though much more remains to be done. What is more crucial is the manner in which the political dialogue is conducted and that it is an all-inclusive process. The signing of the NCA will serve as a foundation to promote trust and confidence building between the government and EAOs as well as other key stakeholders. More importantly for genuine peace to prevail it is crucial that short and long-term strategies are made clear defined and adopted. Such strategies should focus on ending the on-going conflicts as well as promoting the rights and development of the citizens and regions which have been affected. Myanmar’s transition to peace, democracy and development will not be easy due the deep-rooted nature of the issues and a such will require time and patience.
Political Monitor 21 - 1 - 14 August 2015
The announcement in state run-media on the reshuffling of the senior ministers from the cabinet by President Thein Sein and the removal of Speaker Thura Shwe Mann from his post as USDP party chair has not only made headlines but more importantly raised concerns and public confidence in Myanmar’s ongoing democratic transformation. Furthermore, the reassignment of four Ministers can also be seen as an attempt to putting the house in order within the military institutions. While the changes have come within USDP ranks, it is important to note the relationship which exists between the party and the military institutions and that the recent changes may have been directly or indirectly been influenced and even approved by the Tatmadaw. Undemocratic as it maybe, the changes could yet prove to be to serve the country’s interest and that the outcome will be more clearer after the elections on 8 November later this year.
On a more positive note, the achievement by the government’s Union Peace-making Working Committee (UPWC) team and the Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) Senior Delegation in reaching an agreement on the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement draft will give the peace process a much needed impetus at a time when democratic reforms have been marred by the recent purge and changes within the USDP leadership. The signing of the NCA will no doubt contribute to bringing the much needed stability within the country. It is critical that without a political process that involves all ethnic groups that can secure equality, justice and self-determination for the ethnic minorities is established. Otherwise, there is little hope for lasting peace. The signing of the NCA is the beginning step to achieve genuine peace and the political dialogue that follows will be pivotal in determining the country’s political landscape.
Political Monitor 20 - 18 - 31 July 2015
The Presidential amnesty and preparations for the November general elections with registeration of voters and would-be candidates reflect a positive nature in Myanmar’s democratic process. While agreement was reached on some general issues at the nationwide ceasefire talks the inability by both sides to see eye to eye on some key issues including security integration (also referred to as Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration/DDR and Security Sector Reform/SSR) ; land use and natural resources management remain unresolved. Other issues of “all-inclusiveness” and presence and participation of international observers (witnesses) which have long been called for by EAOs as a vital component of any peace deal by will also need to be ironed out in the next round of talks. With key issues still remaining unresolved, both the UPWC and the senior delegation of the EAOs will need to make compromises if the NCA is to be signed before the November elections. While many issues and challenges remain unresolved it is important to note that the on-going peace process is crucial in shaping Myanmar’s democratic reforms and the country’s political future. And if the government and EAOs are committed to achieving peace then it is incumbent for both sides to adopt and make comprises as well as ending all military confrontations inside the country.
Political Monitor 19 - 4 - 17 July 2015
There had been great concern that the peace process had stalled and that campaigning for the elections would take over an interrupt the momentum that had brought hope that a peace agreement would finally be signed after so many years of conflict. Talks between the new Senior Delegation representing the ethnic armed organizations and the government were more positive. Both sides made it clear that they are serious about peace and that they intend to sign a national ceasefire agreement (NCA) as soon as possible. But whether or not they are able to, remains to be seen.
At the same time, following the announcement of the Union Election Commission (UEC) of the 8 November General Election date, not only have several parties (including the NLD) already started to throw their hats into the ring, but the President reiterated his government’s commitment to the democratic process, including free and open debate. This could be seen in Parliament where amendments to the constitution were fiercely debated and in the ended largely rejected, however while some may be disappointed by the outcome, democracy as a process is definitely starting to take hold in the country. 2015 long promised to be a pivotal year for Myanmar and the following months will perhaps finally bring a few circles to a close.
Political Monitor 18 - 21 June - 3 July 2015
The debate to amend controversial clauses in the 2008 Constitution suffered yet another blow when parliament voted against enacting changes. While the rejection by parliament may seem that changing the constitution is a lost cause it is important to realize that Myanmar’s democratic reform will not end here and that it will continue beyond 2015. It is crucial to realize and understand that the on-going transition in Myanmar is gradual and that any form of change will need time and cannot be achieved overnight. Furthermore, due to the complex nature of Myanmar’s political arena and vast number of stakeholders involved, it will also need to be consensual due to the fact that the country has been and continues to be influenced by the military (Tatmadaw). And if peace and democratic reforms in Myanmar are to be achieved, the current and future governments as well as other key stakeholders will need to find ways on how best to deal with the military.
Political Monitor 17 - 13 - 20 June 2015
Complaints of electoral roll call errors by the Union Election Commission (UEC) in recent weeks is a sign that the upcoming elections in November has indeed drawn the interest of many people in Myanmar. The large number of formal objections to voter lists posted in Rangoon Region as well as the inclusion of deceased in voter lists in Mon State has been brought to the attention of the authorities not only shows that such irregular practices will not be accepted but more importantly reflecting a starch contrast from practices of the past. The UEC on its part has initiated steps and measures in election administration since the flawed elections in 2010. The consultative approach adopted including consultation with civil society and international electoral support organisations on the regulatory framework; invitations to international electoral observers as well as to domestic observers would suggest that it is keen and committed to delivering credible polls results. The upcoming months ahead will be a time of considerable uncertainty and possible tension coupled with a fragile peace process which remains as one of the major challenges to the successful holding of the elections. And the most probable and important factor is that the outcome of the elections is accepted by the military (Tatmadaw).
Political Monitor 16 - 1 - 12 June 2015
The formation of a new high-level team to represent ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) in future peace talks with the government has put a spanner in the works towards the on-going peace process. The Law Khee Lar meeting initially had been held with the aim of seeking the approval and endorsement by EAO leaders on the exisiting National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) draft. However, the week long summit has added further implications and more uncertainty towards the peace process and seeking a way forward will no doubt be difficult. While the government or even theTatamadaw has yet to make an official response on the creation of the EAOs new negotiating team, it will no doubt will have created further mistrust among stakeholders involved.
Political Monitor 15 - 23 - 31 May 2015
The visit of UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy Vijay Nambiar once again brings to light the seriousness of the unresolved and sensitive issue regarding the boat people vis-à-vis the Rohingya. The issue which has persisted for decades by successive governments prior 2010 has left the current President in an awkward predicament and that a resolution is unlikely in the near foreseeable future. However, the authorities in Myanmar will need to learn from the past and should take the necessary steps to resolve the issue in a timely and acceptable manner. Similarly, the continued bombardment of Kachin Independence Army (KIA) positions by government forces create a worrying sign for the peace process but also towards national reconciliation. Stakeholders especially ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) will no doubt be closely monitoring the clashes and question the sincerity of the government’s true intentions to achieve peace. Such skirmishes are not new and will most likely continue to occur but should be avoided at all costs by all concerned parties. On a more positive note, it seems that steps and preparations for the elections later this year are making progress and that the elections should be seen as another indicator for the democratic reform process in the country.
Political Monitor 14 - 10 - 22 May 2015
Meetings with civil society organisations, compilation of voters list, formation of political alliances show that Myanmar’s election process is s gaining momentum and that things are moving in the right direction. However, the recent actions taken by the Chin Regional government to restrict the holding of human rights training in Falam will not be conducive towards the on-gong democratic reform process. More importantly, if democracy is to flourish in Myanmar, both the central and regional governments should find ways in promoting the dissemination of democratic practices and fundamental human rights on a nation-wide basis.
While the electoral process is making proress, the continued fighting in the Kokang region calls into question the status of the on-going peace process. To that end, the visits by high-ranking Chinese officials to Naypyidaw is a sign that the two governments are fully aware of the impact of the conflict in Sino-Myanmar relations and that the two countries will need to find an amicable solution in ending the conflict. Meetings between the China and Myanmar officials alone will not be enough to end the clashes and that the Myanmar government together with the Tatmadaw will also need to engage with Kokang group if the conflict is to end peacefully. On a wider scale, the fighting between government troops and the Kokang could also jeopardize the on-going peace process and also the upcoming elections later this year.
Political Monitor 13 - 1 - 9 May 2015
The messages that came through loud and clear from the Panghsan Conference was that the on-going conflicts that have plagued Myanmar are the result of political differences between the government and various ethnic groups and that these conflicts could only be resolved through political means. They said that for the conflicts to be resolved through dialogue a pre-requisite is the need for a national ceasefire that encompasses all ethnic armed organisations (EAOs). Hopes that the Conference would give its seal of approval to the National Ceasefire Accord (NCA) draft failed to transpire. However, the meetings between President Thein Sein and leaders from the RCSS/SSA, Wa Special Region-2 and Mongla Special Regions-4 in Kengtung (Kyaingtone) will contribute in building trust and understanding between all those involved. Myanmar’s ethnic conflicts have plagued the country for over half a century and in seeking to end them will require not only negotiations but participation of all stakeholders. The peace process will not end within President Thein Sein’s tenure and will most probably continue to do so into the next Presidency in 2016. However, basic foundations leading to peace and national reconciliation will need to laid down and that any initiative taken in reaching those goals should be supported and welcomed. Myanmar’s democratic reforms and peace process will not be easy and will continue to face more challenges but it is worth noting that the steps and measures taken by President Thein Sein are those taking the country in the right direction.
Political Monitor 12 - 19 - 30 April2015
The visit to China by Speaker of the Union Parliament (Pyidaungsu Hluttaw) Thura Shwe Mann at a time when clashes between government forces and the Kokang group on the Myanmar-China border reflects that both governments are keen to promote and good bilateral ties. Furthermore, the visit is also significant in that Speaker Thura Shwe Mann could also be making preparations in laying the groundwork to establish closer relations with the Chinese leadership in Beijing in anticipating his election to the Presidency later this year. Thura Shwe Mann has in the past stated clearly that he would be happy to serve as President. At the same, the recent announcement by the National Democratic Forces (NDF) to field nearly 400 candidates in the upcoming elections is a reflection that Myanmar is slowly moving away from one-party rule to multi-party democracy. However, it remains to be seen as to the extent on how these parties and politicians alike will be able to function in Myanmar’s new found democratic society. And the pledge by the European Union to assist the Myanmar’s on-going democratic process is indeed encouraging though aid and grants alone cannot guarantee success and that the onus is on the government to deliver on its promises on holding free and fair elections and beyond 2015.
The SNDP’s statement regarding its position and its dissatisfaction on the way the recent 6-party talks were conducted is an indication not only on the lack of transparency but more importantly the need to implement an all-inclusive national reconciliation process. This once again underlines the crucial need on the involvement of all stakeholders in the on-going democratic transition. While it is not an easy task to address the needs of all stakeholders entirely, it is important to note that from time to time the decisions taken by the government, Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) or political parties or even civil society groups will not meet the needs or demands of stakeholders and that they have been made in the best interest of the country and people.
Political Monitor 11 - 12 - 18 April 2015
The latest pledge by Japan to provide assistance to the on-going peace process in Myanmar is welcomed and appreciated. But Japan with its historical ties with Myanmar should try to be more aware and sensitive of the complex nature of the long-running military conflicts in the country.
The recent signing of the NCA draft between the Union Peace-making Working Committee (UPWC) and the National Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) representing the ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) is indeed positive. However, continued fighting in the Kokang Region shows that much more needs to be done to achieve peace and that challenges still remain. More importantly, the fact that the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and several other EAOs were sidelined from the talks does not bode well for the peace process. Even if the government is unable to meet the demand of every armed group, all possible options should be explored in seeking to promote an all-inclusive process to achieve peace.
The international community including Japan can contribute to peace but they should also pay attention towards the transition to democracy in Myanmar. And in doing so, they will need to adopt a realistic and patient approach.
Political Monitor 10 - 1 - 11 April 2015
The government’s signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Draft Agreement with the ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) is indeed a breakthrough, though the road to national reconciliation and peace remains fragile.
While the draft in itself is incomplete with some major issues left remaining, the fact that the two sides have been able to reach an agreement despite lingering mistrust is an achievement and should not be taken lightly. What is more difficult now is the task that lies ahead in working to achieve a political solution to ending decades of fighting since independence in 1948.
Myanmar’s democratic reform process is still in a nascent stage of transition and that many things remain to be solved including the unrests and fighting in the Kokang region in the Shan State and the signing of the NCA draft could be a test of the government’s commitment towards peace.
Similarly, the holding of six-party talks and meeting with leaders of political parties, ethnic affairs ministers and ethnic leaders are indeed positive steps in the right the direction. However, it is crucial that the talks and future ones need to address a wide range of key issues including constitutional amendments, peace building, and rule of law, promoting of fundamental rights of all citizens and holding of a free and fair elections. And if the on-going reform process in Myanmar is to be successful, the government and all stakeholders will need set aside their differences and focus on the issues rather than on self and group interests. Myanmar is now entering a crucial phase as it prepares to hold elections while at the same time seeking to resolve decades of fighting. It therefore is crucial for the government to adopt and implement the right policies and failure could derail the on-going reforms and national reconciliation process.
Political Monitor No.9 - 14 - 31 March 2015
Efforts to get a Nationwide Ceasefire has finally yielded an NCA draft. While both sides have made concessions and reached consensus on most terms of the NCA, they have failed to reach a firm conclusion on key issues such as a Military Code of Conduct, Ceasefire Monitoring mechanisms, interim arrangements for troop allocation, taxation, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process and a security sector reform process. While weak on military matters, the NCA draft is seen as opening the door to beginning a Political Dialogue which is the goal of the ethnic armed organizations.
The agreement on the draft NCA is indeed a positive development, but before it can be signed, an ethnic summit is necessary for the EAO leadership to agree to the draft negotiated by the NCCT. Much can happen to prevent the signing such as serious battles still continue in some areas of the Kachin and Shan States. And it therefore is crucial for both sides to end and prevent potential clashes from reoccurring.
More importantly, government forces will need to adopt a more restrained approach in implementing military operations against EAOs in the light of the elections slated for later this year. Continuation of military campaigns prior to the elections can create distrust but more importantly can destabilize the elections and jeopardize the on-going national reconciliation process.
This once again raises the need and importance of implementing key mechanisms such as joint Ceasefire Monitoring and a Codes of Conduct. Under such circumstances, meetings and talks between the government and the EAOs will need to continue even after the signing of the NCA.
28 February - 13 March 2015
Despite the government’s declaring a 90-day state of emergency and imposing martial law in the Kokang region, skirmishes between government forces and MNDAA group continue and has sent thousands fleeing into neighbouring China. Both the government and MNDAA have presented their own versions of the conflict but neither side has initiated or sought to end the fighting. At a time when the government is embarking on national reconciliation and engaged in protracted negotiations with various ethnic armed organizations (EAOs), the fighting in the Kokang region can only be detrimental to the on-going peace process. With the elections scheduled to take place later this year the government should avoid engaging in any large-scale military operations and thus will need to find a way to end the fighting in the Kokang region. The road to achieving a lasting political solution to Myanmar’s ethnic conflicts will be long and difficult but can only be achieved through negotiations and engagement.
Political Monitor 7 - 14 – 27 February 2015
The resumption of fighting in Kokang Region once again raises tensions as well as speculation on Myanmar’s national reconciliation process. Despite the introduction of martial law fighting continues and demonstrates the fragility of the current peace process. While the exact reasons regarding the cause of the recent outbreak remains unclear, the little trust which had existed between the government and ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) will now have diminished. Furthermore, the latest clashes have also created instability along the Sino-Myanmar border and thus will not be conducive to the already tense Sino-Myanmar ties. It is therefore crucial that ethnic conflicts in Myanmar must and should be resolved through dialogue and engagement. Furthermore, it is necessary that all stakeholders concerned are involved in peace talks and democratic reform and that their concerns are addressed in a fair and just manner. Naypyidaw’s response in ending the Kokang conflict will not only have ramifications on the peace process but also in testing and shaping the future of Sino-Myanmar relations.
Political Monitor 6 - 7 - 13 February 2015
The signing of the Deed of Commitment for Peace and National Reconciliation on Union Day 12 February was indeed significant and a reflection of the government’s desire in achieving peace with the aim of holding an inclusive dialogue to resolve political problems. Furthermore, the fact that the government and 4 ethnic armed organizations, 29 ethnic affairs ministers, and 55 representatives from political parties signing the deed amounted to an incredibleshow of support for federalism and edging one step closer towards the Nationwide Ceasefire Accord (NCA). However, the fresh clashes which have broken out in Laukkai, Kokang Region raise concerns and could overshadow the on-going efforts to ink a nationwide peace agreement. Taking into account, the current fighting with the MNDAA group and recent clashes with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Kachin and Shan State, it is clear that maintaining peace and stability in Myanmar’s northern regions will not be easy. Furthermore, due to geographical locations, it is obvious that any military offensive targeted at a specific group will no doubt directly or indirectly affect other EAOs. It, therefore, is crucial that any long-term political solution to the conflicts will need to state clear and practical definitions on the right to self-rule.The absence and lack of trust between the government and EAOs as well as renewed fighting will not help the national reconciliation process and could possibly unravel the existing peace agreements in place. The government and the Tatmadaw will need to find a solution to address such shortcomings and that the longer the fighting continues the hope of achieving peace will become more elusive.
Political Monitor 5 - 31 January - 6 February 2015
Myanmar’s democratic transition as it enters election year is once again confronted with student’s protests and continued fighting between government forces and ethnic armed organizations in Kachin and Shan States. President Thein Sein as part of his reform process laid out policies to conduct a comprehensive review of the Myanmar’s failing education system. However, the adoption by parliament of the new National Education Law without consulting key stakeholders has now created a crisis for the government. While talks are on-going to resolve the issue, students are demanding that any future talks and decision-making processes on the national education law must be inclusive and transparent. On a more positive note, the fact that students have been permitted to express their anger on the streets peacefully shows how far Myanmar has come in promoting democratic practices and that things are moving in the right direction.
That being said, the fighting which has occurred in Kachin and Shan State between government troops and ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) raises concerns of the on-going peace process. While both the government and EAOs have made efforts in bridging the differences they have thus far failed to address the root causes of the decades of fighting. Under the circumstances, any initiative or agreement seeking to end these conflicts should be based on equal rights and self-determination for which political dialogue is a pre-requisite. More importantly, the government, Tatmadaw, EAOs, political parties and other key stakeholders need to assess their own bottom line, regarding the peace process and democratic reforms.
Myanmar’s transition is complicated and often difficult to comprehend and if there is to be genuine peace and stability it can only be achieve through trust and understanding but more importantly will require greater resolve and genuine commitment by all involved.
Political Monitor 4 - 24 - 30 January 2015
The recent protests by students in Yangon, Mandalay, Myingyan, Kyaukse, Taungtha and Magwe against the National Education Law came after the government failed to meet the demands by students for talks to amend the proposed legislation. And as protests were gaining momentum and likelihood of spreading to other parts of the country, the government finally agreed to meet with student representatives in resolving the issue. However, whether these talks and meetings will be enough to end the protests remains to be seen. The draft legislation which was rushed through Parliament without adequate consultation with relevant stakeholders has been slated as not representing the interests of the people and the students. Thus, it is crucial that any future discussions to resolve the issue will need to include students and teachers as well as other key stakeholders. Myanmar is currently going through a political transition to democracy and the formulating of a new education policy should be based on democratic principles.Students have played a leading role in political movements in the past and the recent protests are clear indications that their demands for a good education system can only serve to promote interests of the country and creating an engine of a more vibrant and confident society in Myanmar. The road ahead in 2015 is long and challenging and at such a crucial juncture in time, the government should avoid the creation of adding another crisis to its already exhaustive lists of conflicts and issues.
Political Monitor 3 - 17 - 23 January 2015
The visit and discussions between Myanmar leaders and the Secretary-General of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) Yves Letterme shows the seriousness and commitment of the authorities in Naypyitaw in holding the elections later this year. The promise by the Union Election Commission that the polls would be free and fair is also indeed a welcome development though it is far too early to predict the outcome and whether the UEC adheres and delivers on its words remains to be seen. Key issues on Constitutional Amendment and signing of a National Ceasefire Accord (NCA) still remain unresolved and pending. At such a time, the call urging the government for the inclusion of youth representatives at future peace talks is a step in the right direction and has initially been accepted in principal by the government’s chief peace negotiator Minister Aung Min. President Thein Sein in his message on the occasion of the International Day of Democracy on 15 September 2014 stated that “Myanmar’s future depends on the 16 million youth population and that the youth play a crucial role in democratic reform process.” And if the President is true to his words, the inclusion of youth representatives at future peace talks should be welcomed. While the current peace talks have made progress it has not been able to prevent outbreaks of clashes between government forces and ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) and this has been due partly to the absence of a military code of conduct. The peace process in Myanmar is indeed a crucial component of the on-going democratic reforms and without lasting peace any future government will have difficulty in maintaining political stability. Myanmar’s past history has shown that there is no guarantee that the current peace process can be preserved and maintained on the long-run. And it therefore is important for all stakeholders to understand and to seize the opportunity even if all their concerns and demands are not being met in its entirety.
Political Monitor 2 - 10 - 16 January 2015
Myanmar’s democratic process is once again under the spotlight as the country prepares itself to hold general elections later this year. At such a crucial juncture in time, Myanmar is still confronted with one of its most pressing issues that of the on-going ethnic conflicts inside the country. President Thein Sein’s recent meeting with ethnic ministers, political leaders and representatives from ethnic groups once again highlights the importance of national reconciliation and that such meetings can contribute to creating a better understanding as well as promoting trust among key stakeholders. The President has also emphasized the need to implement a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) as a first step to begin a political dialogue that can shape the country’s political future. However, the clashes between government forces and the KIA in Kachin State raises questions as to why government and ethnic armed groups are fighting each other at this point in time and the consequences it could have for the peace process. On a more positive note, the fact that both sides are engaged in talks is in itself an achievement taking into consideration that mistrust runs deep after decades of fighting. Whatever the case maybe, peace can be reached through negotiations but will require greater resolve and genuine commitment to change. More importantly it is crucial that the current small scale skirmishes do not become outright war.
Political Monitor 1 - 3 - 9 January 2015
The announcement by the Union Election Commission (UEC) that the elections would take place in either October or November later this year will be closely monitored by the international community and be used as a yard-stick to measure the on-going democratic transition in Myanmar. It therefore is crucial that the upcoming elections are free, fair, transparent and all-inclusive and pave the way to achieve genuine peace. President Thein Sein since taking office has implemented political, social and economic reforms and also focussed on ending the long-standing issue of ethnic conflicts in the country. His recent call made during a meeting with ethnic leaders urging them to sign the peace agreement on Union Day which falls on 12 February once again highlights the importance of peace and its impact in shaping the country’s political future beyond 2015. And to that end, the convening of a national dialogue is very important for the country – not only for the ethnic armed organisations and the military, but for all stakeholders in Myanmar. Similarly, other crucial issues including constitutional amendment, land confiscation, communal violence, political prisoners, the plight of people displaced by armed conflict and press freedom remain unresolved. The government therefore is confronted with a myriad of challenges and issues in 2015 and no doubt its efforts to resolve these sensitive issues in the run-up to the elections will indeed remain pivotal and major political risks for the country’s future. While progress has been made towards democratisation, the “understanding” between the present government, the military and political parties including ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) remains fragile. At such a juncture in time it is important to think carefully when dealing with the military since it remains to be one of the strongest and largest institutions in the country and that any attempts to remove its role in the running of the country could prove to be counter-productive. The country is now entering testing times and unchartered territory and if the current reforms are to succeed all stakeholders including the government, the military, ethnic armed organisations and political parties will need to set aside their differences and work together to confront the challenges which lie ahead.
Political Monitor 30 - 29 November - 19 December 2014
President Thein Sein in his monthly stated that he is laying a firm foundation for the country and that challenges still remain. This indeed is a valid point since the country has been isolated for half a century and those reforms cannot be accomplished overnight. In this regard the visit by Chinese President Li Yuanchao as well as the delegation of the Elders Group to Myanmar once again reflects the recognition and support by the international community of the democratic transition process prevailing in Myanmar. The visit by Chinese Vice Premier Li Yuanchao is further evident that Sino-Myanmar relations will always remain an integral part of the long-standing “Phauk-phaw” friendship. And it is worth noting that the ties between the two countries are mutual and complimentary and the visit can only further consolidate their relationship for the future. On the domestic front, the meeting between the Commander-in-Chief and the KNU is indeed crucial for the national reconciliation process but more importantly that dialogue and engagement is on-going. It would indeed be beneficial if similar meetings could be conducted with all other ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) leading to building of trust between all concerned. 2014 has seen Myanmar take strides but key significant challenges remain unresolved and that the signing of the National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) and holding of free and fair elections will clearly be the main factors defining Myanmar beyond 2015.
Political Monitor 29 15 - 28 November 2014
The latest assault and shelling of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) military academy by government forces on 19 November, has raised doubts on the prospect of achieving a nationwide ceasefire between the Myanmar government and ethnic armed organizations (EAOs).
President Thein Sein in the past has reiterated the importance of achieving peace and that its success will be pivotal in shaping the reform process in Myanmar. When national reconciliation is entering a crucial stage it is important for both government forces and EAOs to avoid military operations. In some cases, they need to adopt restraint and understanding. However, after decades of fighting, mistrust runs deep and achieving national reconciliation will not be easy. Questions have surfaced as to whether the military (Tatmadaw) is truly committed to peace. The killing of 23 officer cadets has not helped the cause. But in such situations, it is even more important that the ceasefire talks continue, to avoid an escalation in the war. Both sides need to realize that if the nationwide ceasefire talks fail, it will be a return to war. Is that truly what they want? Will such a move benefit their people?
The on-going debate in parliament to amend the Constitution aimed at limiting the role of the Tatmadaw has been seen by military MPs as an act of aggression towards their institution. This tension is also having a negative impact on the ceasefire negotiations. The military on its part is keen to preserve its role as a key decision-maker in ‘protecting’ the nation and will not want to relinquish it lightly. Therefore, the reforms in Myanmar including transformation from military rule to democratic governance should not be implemented hastily but gradually.
Political Monitor 28 - 8 - 14 November 2014
Against the backdrop of criticism and pressure, Myanmar has successfully steered and guided the 10-member ASEAN Chairmanship to a successful conclusion. It has demonstrated to the international community its willingness and commitment towards the on-going reform process.
Despite the positive progress and successful holding of the ASEAN Summit lie the real tests for Naypyitaw in resolving issues ranging from ethnic conflicts, constitutional reform, land rights, sectarian violence and national reconciliation. The issues are inter-related and complex and will need to be dealt with collectively and failure to do so could see a knock-on effect on the country’s reform process.
Urgent action is needed to address the issues and Naypyitaw needs to show that the progress achieved thus far is not mere window-dressing. The international community on its part should continue in providing support towards the on-going reform process and play a vital part in the transformation of the country from a closed authoritarian to a more open and democratic society. Similarly, it is crucial for key stakeholders including parliamentarians, political parties, ethnic armed organisations and civil society to work together in bringing about change to the country. The road ahead for Myanmar is long, challenges remain and new ones will emerge and the transition to democracy will require patience and time.
Political Monitor 27 - 25 October - 7 November 2014
At the recent high-level meeting held in Naypyitaw, President Thein Sein urged military leaders, Speakers of Parliament and representatives of prominent political parties to continue the democratic transition, strengthen the peace process as well as to successfully holding the 2015 elections. In doing so, he emphasized the need for all stakeholders to refrain from resorting to confrontational approaches and strive for a better future through realistic political means. The meeting is a significant development and the President’s initiative to engage with prominent political players involved in Myanmar’s reform process should be welcomed. It is a lack of understanding and trust between the government, the military and ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) which has stalled the on-going peace process. Therefore, the President’s initiative to consult and begin to build trust amongst the key political players is crucial.
While the main responsibility for dealing with these challenges may lie with the government, military and ethnic armed organisations it is important for political parties, civil society and public at large to engage actively in the peace process. Major obstacles and challenges that could derail current reforms remain and all concerned stakeholders will need to find common ground if genuine peace and national reconciliation is to be achieved in Myanmar.
Political Monitor 26 - 18 - 24 October 2014
The meetings between the Wa, the Mongla and the SSA-South with the Union Peace Working Committee (UPWC) are timely and comes at a time when recent clashes in the Shan State have raised concerns about the direction of the on-going peace process. The fact that concerned parties are talking and have agreed to continue to meet is indeed encouraging. Mistrust runs deep on both sides after decades of fighting, which has left ethnic minority areas under-developed. Continued fighting, small or big instances, will only lead to further tensions. However, a key question as to why military offensives against EAOs at a time when peace negotiations are ongoing still remains unclear. The on-going peace process has reached a crucial point where details need to be clearly defined and agreed on. The crucial role of the Tatmadaw not only in the peace process but also in politics cannot be ignored and any initiative or agreement without its endorsement will not be lasting. The Tatmadaw and the EAOs need to be convinced that peace is the only way forward. While any peace deal must be just and equitable but more importantly accommodate the real aspirations of the ethnic groups based on equality and self-determination.
Political Monitor 25 - 4 - 17 October 2014
The statement issued by 4 Karen military factions to establish the Kawthoolei Armed Force (KAF) claims that it is a step taken to implement the decision reached at the 15th KNU Congress in 2012. At the Congress, the KNU laid out an objective on reuniting the various Karen factions and agreed in principle to formation of a “reunification committee”. However, The decision taken by the Head of the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) Gen. Saw Lah Pwe, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Gen. Baw Kyaw, the Karen National Defence Organization (KNDO) led by Col. Nerdah Mya and Colonel Tiger from the KNU/KNLA Peace Council to form the KAF was done without the prior consent and approval of the KNU leadership. Such actions could not only affect the unity of the KNU and but its cooperation with other ethnic armed organisations (EAOs). Furthermore, the announcement to form the KAF comes at a time when clashes have occurred between the government troops and both DKBA and KNU/KNLA Peace Council forces and the stated objectives of the KAF is to unite the Karen people and prevent further incursions into Karen territory by government troops. That was not the specific aim of the 15th Congress. The fallout within KNU ranks will be monitored closely by the government and other ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) and that a fragmented KNU could create a bigger threat not only to the on-going peace process but also towards the democratic reforms in Burma.
Political Monitor 24 - 27 September - 3 October 2014
The second tripartite talks can be regarded as a step in the right direction and that the on-going peace talks are being expanded towards a more inclusive process. In order for the peace talks to be successful, the UPWC and NCCT should inform, but, more importantly, also seek the participation of other stakeholders including women, youth, civil society and local communities. However, the inclusion of stakeholders alone will not be enough to deliver peace and democracy to Burma. Measures to end on-going clashes between government forces and ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) will need to be implemented with strong commitment and political will. The government, Tatmadaw (military) and EAOs have stated their desire to end decades of fighting in the country; though have been unable to deliver peace due to differences on key critical areas of interest. It is therefore crucial for those involved to make compromises and sacrifices to achieve peace. Whether the parties involved in the process are willing to take such decisions remains to be seen.
Political Monitor 23 - 20 - 26 September 2014
The meeting between the Union Peace-Making Work Committee (UPWC) and Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) concluded with both sides remaining deadlocked on several key issues. Some of the unresolved matters are: troop deployment; a code of conduct; the formation of a cease-fire monitoring joint-committee, and a road map for the political dialogue. Recent hostilities between government troops and EAOs in the Karen area does not seem to be politically motivated but such incidents could lead to a widening conflict. The concerns have arisen due to the lack of monitoring. The Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement without a joint military code of conduct on the ground would also be meaningless. It is therefore crucial for the government, including the military and EAOs, to accept that the on-going conflicts can only be resolved by building trust, understanding and adherence to a set of clearly defined rules of engagement.
Political Monitor 22 - 13 - 19 September 2014
At a time when trust between the government and ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) is still lacking and confidence building measures are still being established, the killing of the DKBA lieutenant in Myawaddy will not have contributed positively towards the national reconciliation process. While the incident may be small, the impact and repercussions if not properly handled immediately could lead to further tensions between government forces and EAOs.
The call made by the government’s chief peace negotiator Minister Aung Min for civil society and youth groups to participate in the peace process is indeed encouraging. For such kind of initiatives to become a reality, all sides involved in the peace talks will need to show their willingness and acceptance to engage all stakeholders. This once again highlights that an all-inclusive participatory process is a key to a successful peace process. Whether the government or the EAOs share such sentiments remains to be seen.
Political Monitor 21 - 6 - 12 September 2014
Burma’s election commission has postponed the by-elections scheduled for later this year, citing the financial burden it would pose for political parties as one of its concerns. The postponement represents yet another step backwards in the on-going democratic reform process, although it has been welcomed by prominent parties including the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and the National League for Democracy (NLD). However, for some, the by-elections could have provided an important test for assessing the commitment of Naypyitaw to democratic reforms, but it will seen by others as another broken pledge. On a more positive note, the cancellation means parties will have more time to prepare for the general elections to be held next year in 2015. If the government is genuinely committed to reforms, it will need to work with the election commission to ensure that the 2015 general elections are conducted in a free and fair manner.
Political Monitor 20 - 30 August - 5 September 2014
The recent walk-out by the KNU from the UNFC Congress could have an adverse effect on the on-going peace talks and is a clear indication that there exist different views among the ethnic groups, in conducting the nationwide ceasefire and political talks with the government.
This latest incident will not serve the best interest of either the government or the ethnic armed organizations (EAOs). It behoves the UNFC to re-examine its internal procedures. If as the KNU claims, the decision-making is top down and does not take into consideration its member`s need, the alliance cannot succeed in its objective to build unity. The leaders of the UNFC are not the key decision-makers in their own organizations, so how can they expect their unilateral decisions to be obeyed by their own top leaders, especially if they are not consulted before hand?
It also highlights the fact that the UNFC cannot truly speak on behalf of all the ethnic armed organizations as it claims. The United Wa State Army with 30,000 troops, Restoration Council for Shan State with 7,000 troops National Democratic Alliance Army with 2,000 troops, and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Kaplan) with at least 1,000 troops in Myanmar, are not members of the UNFC nor the NCCT which is negotiating a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with the Government. Those not represented by the UNFC total 45,000 troops (if the KNU leaves the UNFC). In contrast, the biggest group within the UNFC is the KIO with 10,000 troops. Add to this the twelve other smaller groups and the grand total is about 18,000 troops. Given this discrepancy, the government needs to ensure that the negotiations being conducted by the NCCT is in line with the opinion of the other groups. Otherwise, they may not agree to sign the NCA.
Political Monitor 19 - 16 - 29 August 2014
The meeting between the President, Commander-in-Chief and ethnic leaders from the Shan State is a step in the right direction towards the on-going national reconciliation process. In its efforts to ending more than six decades of civil war, the government has managed to sign ceasefire agreements with 14 ethnic armed organisations (EAOs), but to date none of these agreements have been able to deliver genuine and sustainable peace. This once again highlights the need to conduct political dialogue where the interests of all stakeholders including the government, the military (Tatmadaw), EAOs, political parties, civil society and the people can be addressed in a democratic and transparent manner.
More importantly, the latest round of peace talks has seen a breakthrough on the existing draft cease-fire framework agreement. The fact that both sides have agreed to incorporate a monitoring mechanism vis-a-vis the formation of a peacekeeping task force into the final cease-fire agreement is encouraging.
Furthermore, the government’s willingness to discuss sensitive issue and the demand for a federal union by the EAOs is an indication that the two sides are committed towards achieving lasting peace. Nonetheless, “federalism” needs to be defined more precisely; however the acceptance by the authorities to discuss the issue at a later stage of the peace process is indeed a positive step.
At the same time, it is important to note that the nature of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) is twofold: 1) to end military activities and strengthen all ceasefires and 2) to commence a political dialogue with the aim of resolving the long-standing political, economic and social conflicts between the government and the EAOs. The recent developments in the past week are indeed encouraging and it is incumbent upon for the government and the EAOs to seize this window of opportunity and to help ensure the peace process becomes a reality for Burma.
Political Monitor 18 12 - 31 July 2014
The ethnic leaders’ summit in Laiza once again reflects the importance and need for peace if indeed the on-going democratic reforms are to succeed. The NCCT has thus far yet to deliver on the long-promised nation-wide cease-fire, key players including - the government, military, parliament and main opposition party are now also more focused on the 2015 elections than the national reconciliation process. The moves to amend parts of the existing Constitution, introduce proportional representation as well as removing of military representatives from parliament maybe justified but they should not be done at the expense of the achieving peace. Continued aggression and offensives by government troops in Shan and Kachin States will need to cease if the NCA is to be meaningful and sustainable. The armed forces of both the government and ethnic armed organisations will need to make compromises on key issues such as territorial control and economic gains in the interest of the country and people.
Political Monitor 17 5 - 11 July
The on-going democratic reform process in Burma has witnessed significant changes but remains very fragile. The continued fighting in Kachin and Shan states is of concern and poses a threat which can undermine the government’s ceasefire efforts and brings into doubt the relationship between the President and the Tatmadaw (military) leadership. The military, or Tatmadaw, remains the most powerful actor in Burma’s political system. Its role has changed significantly while its core interests are focussed on maintaining its independence and to be seen as the sole protector of the state. If that is the objective the military’s relations with civilian opposition parties, ethnic groups and international community, has to greatly improve. The military will also need to adopt a more positive and flexible approach towards the on-going peace process as well as reforming the military. Although a major challenge such efforts to improve these relations will be crucial in shaping and deciding the country’s political future.
Political Monitor 16 21 June - 4 July
The recent outbreaks of violence in Mandalay are further signs that the democratic transition in Burma is far from smooth and simple. What is alarming is that such communal conflicts are occurring periodically and that the authorities both regional and federal governments have been unprepared but more importantly failed not only in resolving but adopting measures to address such critical issues. After communal unrest in the past, an investigative commission and inquiries were formed, but to date they have not been able to prevent such violence from occurring. As a result, some believe that the recent outbreaks are being instigated and orchestrated with ulterior motives. While the authorities have been quick in responding to the recent outbreak in Mandalay, question remains why preventive measure were not put in place. However, while it is the prerogative of the authorities and security forces to maintain law and order, the task of preventing such communal violence is also a shared responsibility of the public and community and religious leaders alike. The government will now need to embark and put in place a more vigorous plan of action since tensions between the two communities are rising and that a spark could yet ignite further communal unrests in Burma.
Political Monitor 15 7 - 20 June
The on-going peace process represents the best opportunity in decades to resolve the conflict between the government and ethnic armed organisations. However, the continued fighting in Kachin, Shan and most recently the incident in Karen State between government troops and KNU will raise doubts on the credibility of the peace process. And thus once again, the need to adopt and implement a code-of-conduct for the Burmese Army and the ethnic armed organizations becomes more pertinent than ever before and a priority to ensure that troops from both sides operate and follow to an agreed set of rules. In a country which has been plagued with ethnic conflicts for half a century and where tensions have been building, grievances can easily spill over – at any time. When trust is being built it is crucial to move forward slowly but more importantly for all sides to avoid actions which could cause renewed fighting.
Resolving Myanmar’s ethnic conflicts will require substantial and sustained leadership of the government as well as the Tatmadaw, ethnic armed organisations and stakeholders. And until both the government and ethnic armed organizations demonstrate not only their willingness but also full commitment to the ceasefire agreements, the success of the on-going peace process will remain uncertain.
Political Monitor 14 24 May – 6 June
Visits by Japanese Self-Defense Forces Chief of Staff Iwasaki and former British Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir David Richards are steps by the international community to assist the Burmese democratic reform process. Decades of isolation to date has not served to promote Burma nor the international community at large. While the on-going democratic reforms in Burma have been centred on political, social and economic reforms, very little if not any have been done to promote and bring changes to key areas of reforming the military and rule of law. To that extent, the visits by Japanese and British military delegations will no doubt have served in promoting ties between the government in Naypyitaw but more importantly with the Burmese military (Tatmadaw). The outcome of these visits and future visits by military delegations to the country will test the waters on the true commitment of the Tatmadaw towards the on-going reform process in Burma.
While the President has been promoting peace, clashes continue to unfold in north-eastern parts of the country and thus once again cast doubts and even mistrust among the ethnic armed organizations towards the peace process. And if there is to be peace both government forces and those of the ethnic armed organizations involved in the fighting will need to enforce a joint Code of Conduct as soon as possible in order to strengthen the fragile cease-fire agreements. It is therefore incumbent on all parties to the conflict to implement and adhere to such Code of Conduct but more importantly prevent further outbreaks of fighting in the country from recurring.
Political Monitor 13 10 – 23 May
The latest round of peace talks between the government and NCCT saw progress being made on the single draft text with the aim of achieving a national ceasefire accord (NCA), the on-going skirmishes in south eastern Kachin state between government forces and ethnic armed organisations as well as the recent detention of Sai Ail Keng, head of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) in Naminlai, Keng Tung are unwarranted as such a crucial time when peace process is making headway and such incidents can only be detrimental and create further tensions and mistrust between the two sides.
Burma’s assumption of ASEAN chair and hosting of the 24th ASEAN Summit in Naypyitaw should be seen as step in the right direction and will indeed have helped it regain political legitimacy as well as the opportunity to become a responsible member of the international community. But more importantly it will be a test on the Burmese government’s democratic reforms and if Naypyitaw is capable in leading and resolving issues of concern during its tenure as to ASEAN chair.
And at such a crucial stage in time, Burma as ASEAN Chair will need to maintain the momentum of the ASEAN integration process but more importantly balance its relationships with fellow ASEAN members and extra-regional powers including China and the United States. Whether Burma can achieve a balanced international stance as well as achieving political, economic and social stability domestically remains to be seen in the coming months ahead.
Political Monitor 12 26 April – 9 May
While the government backed Myanmar Peace Centre on one hand has been holding talks with the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society group and the Karen National Union (KNU) on peace and national reconciliation, the military (Tatmadaw) on its part has raided the Restoration Council of Shan State’s (RCSS) liaison office in Keng Tung on 6 May. And thus the two sharp contrasting events once again brings to light not only of the fragility of the on-going peace process but also the government’s commitment towards national reconciliation. While the participation of high ranking military officials to recent rounds of peace talks had been welcomed and seen as a positive step in the right direction, the unwarranted raid on the RCSS liaison office will have only created doubts and suspicion over the military’s true agenda regarding the peace process.
Questions will now begin to rise amongst the ethnic armed organizations regarding the ceasefire agreements and if the government can uphold and deliver its promises of genuine peace in the country. While the reasoning and logic behind the raid in Keng Tung still remains unclear, it is yet further signs that the government and military are not on the same wave length regarding the peace process. And such a scenario is a worrying sign for the democratic reform process and could also derailing the upcoming peace talks between Naypyitaw and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).
In order to achieve peace it is essential that action should be taken against those accountable for the recent raid on the RCSS office in a timely and transparent manner. However, failure to do so, could see the entire peace process taking backward steps and moreover deterioration of the already fragile trust between Naypyitaw and the ethnic armed organizations.
Political Monitor 11 12 – 25 April
Despite political reforms, the Burmese government has failed to deliver basic services to its people as well as in resolving the conflicts with its ethnic minority groups. While the government and ethnic armed organizations have been conducting peace talks, serious clashes still continue and if there is to be genuine peace, key principles on demilitarization and redeployment of troops and institutional solutions that guarantee rights to ethnic groups will be fundamentally required. However, the current 2008 Constitution falls short in providing democratic freedom and autonomy aspired by the ethnic nationalities and thus will need to be amended. However, it needs to be noted that this type of constitutional amendment is substantially different from the constitutional amendment being proposed by Thura Shwe Mann, the NLD and the 88 Generation. The constitutional changes being proposed by the ethnic nationalities will have to be discussed in the political dialogue that has been proposed by the NCCT and the ethnic armed organizations. This may be a more appropriate venue to discuss such far reaching amendments.
The on-going constitutional amendment being proposed by the others are key to the 2015 elections, and will in part determine whether the elections are free and fair but will not determine how power or revenue will be shared with the ethnic nationality states. How this amendment process will result in substantive reforms or deadlock partly depends on how the different political players including President Thein Sein, Speaker Thura Shwe Mann, NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing see the future. It could possible derail the peace process or pre-empt the political dialogue that the ethnic nationalities want.
Burma is now at a sensitive stage in its political transition and encouraging prospects for the future have undoubtedly emerged but further attention will also be needed on such issues as electoral laws, census, land rights, education, investment and reforms (issues raised by the ethnic armed organizations) to guarantee the rights of all peoples and races. Whatever emerges from the constitutional review, the democratic transitional process in Burma will become more heated and crucial as it prepares to hold elections in 2015.
Political Monitor 10 5 – 11 April
Burma has emerged from half a decade of isolation under military rule and embarking on a path to open democracy. The country has made headway in its transition to democracy in the last three years though many challenges still remain.
The recent meeting between the government's Union Peacemaking Working Committee (UPWC) and the ethnic armed groups' National Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) can be seen as a major step where both sides were able to outline a draft agreement.
The signing of a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement will be the first phase but one crucial in paving the way for peace. However, in order to sustain peace a national dialogue is necessary to implement a national dialogue where all stakeholders are allowed to have their say in solving issues political, social and economic issues.
The government will also need to adopt policies in resolving deep-rooted disputes and disagreements over self-autonomy, economic development and the right to access natural resources as well as protecting and preserving cultures and languages of ethnic minorities and religious groups.
But peace will not be achieved through political compromises alone. Mutual trust between the government and ethnic groups is crucial and thus all stakeholders will need to demonstrate their sincerity and seriousness if there is to be genuine peace.
However, the continued clashes between government troops and ethnic armed organisations in Shan and Kachin States are indications that sustainable peace in the country continues to be elusive and fragile.
Political Monitor 9 29 March – 4 April
Burma’s democratisation process to date has witnessed both positive and negative changes unfolding while an array of complex issues remains unresolved. And the latest census process aimed at the collection of accurate demographic data crucial for national planning and development seems to have taken a negative turn with many including ethnic groups airing concerns as to how census could fuel conflict in Burma. These groups have also expressed concerns that the authorities and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) have failed to adequately consult a broad range of ethnic groups and stakeholders in preparing the census in a non-transparent and satisfactory manner. Many ethnic minorities and other disenfranchised have also stated the census is a tool that could potentially weaken their status or claims to ethnicity and as such further classifications could lead to further escalation in conflicts within diverse communities in such areas as Shan, Kachin, Karen and Rakhine States. How the government handles the data collected from the census will define the government’s commitment to reforms.
Political Monitor 8 15 – 28 March
During President Thein Sein’s 3 years in office there has been a sea-change of political, economic and social reforms. While the country has made some headway in its democratic transition many challenges including the amending the 2008 Constitution, ending ethnic fighting and successful holding of the elections in 2015 remain high on the agenda.
And the recent sectarian unrests in Sittwe on 26 and 27 in Rakhine State stemming from the removal of a Buddhist flag hoisted at the office of an NGO has once again brought to light the sensitive nature on one of the key issues confronting the government. The root causes for the violence are complex and a nuanced understanding of the situation is needed to attain a viable solution.
The recent unrests seems to have gotten out of control again mainly due to the lack of preventative measures adopted by both local and federal authorities. While this is definitely a very complex situation, it would perhaps be helpful if the government could learn from past experiences and responses and find ways to be more proactive to avoid future conflict, which would be a good step forwards in resolving the situation.
Burma is at a critical and as it prepares to host the Asean Chairmanship this year, will become an open display of its progress in implementing democratic reforms and national reconciliation efforts as well as improving its international image. And if the country’s leader are fully committed to reform, democracy, national reconciliation and respects the rights of humans, it will need to adopt a genuine resolution where the interests of disenfranchised communities are respected and fully integrated into the process of dialogue.
Political Monitor 7 8 – 14 March
The possibility of a smooth transition to democracy and achieving national reconciliation are the aspirations of the majority of those in Burma. However, such desires cannot be fulfilled without the approval or support of the armed forces or Tatmadaw. The recent meeting between the government and ethnic groups’ peace teams was noteworthy due to the participation of high-ranking military officials. The statement by Lieutenant-General Kyaw Swe from the Ministry of Defence stating the national ceasefire accord to be signed by 1 August 2014 is indeed significant.
Similarly, the recent meeting between President Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi can be regarded as yet another positive step in promoting understanding and cooperation between the two leaders. While few details of the talks have been revealed, the meeting can be best characterized as more trust-building exercise than negotiations. Whatever the circumstances may be, a meeting between the President and leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) is indeed encouraging for the national reconciliation process. Whether this or other meetings will move Burma forward depends on how all parties choose to work with each other. Burma’s democratic transition remains fragile and has a long way to go and thus under such circumstances, all stakeholders alike should seize all possible opportunities and accept any form of conciliatory gestures in achieving peace and unity. And if this meeting is able to serve and promote these issues than it can be seen as meaningful.
Political Monitor 6 1 – 7 March
The current constitutional amendment and peace process are key to the 2015 elections, and will no doubt determine Burma’s future political landscape. To that end, the quadripartite meeting called for by Speaker Thura Shwe Mann with President Thein Sein, Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing and Aung San Suu Kyi could prove to be useful if not influential. On 2 January 2014, the President himself stated that "a healthy Constitution must be amended from time to time to meet the national, and economic social needs of our society.”
However, while the idea to hold talks between the four remains unclear; it is important to note that the outcome of the amendment process will depend mainly on the position taken by the military. More importantly, the fact the quadripartite meeting will become in reality a meeting of the four likely presidential candidates for the 2015 elections, although doubts remain if such a meeting will take place at all.
It therefore is important that if it were to happen, the four leaders should address all issues and be open-minded and cooperative, but, more importantly, also take into consideration the interest of the people and country. If the on-going democratisation reform process in Burma is to become irreversible and truly democratic, the country will need to reform its judiciary and constitution accordingly.
Political Monitor 5 22 – 28 February
The opening of the Pyidaungsu Institute (PI) is another common space initiative which will contribute and serve as a resource centre for the ethnic armed organizations, civil society, political parties and public as they strive to achieve peace and end decades of fighting. On a similar note, the recent submission in parliament to allocate 7,000 million Kyat towards the peace process can be regarded as a positive step, although the function and role of the parliament in the on-going peace process will need to be clearly identified. Unfortunately, this is counter balanced by new clashes in Northern Shan State between government forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), which will be another hurdle to move forward with the national reconciliation process.
The peace process has come to a point where there is an overall push to include more actors, especially women, civil society and other government actors including MPs. While calls to push for greater women’s participation in all areas of political life, including the peace process are valid and crucial, their voices have thus far been sidelined by both the government and ethnic armed organisations alike. More importantly, it is remains unclear as to why women are absent from negotiating table, when they (together with children) are the most affected by conflicts and post-conflict situations in Burma. Therefore, it will be incumbent for the government and the ethnic armed organisations to consider the inclusion of women in their peace teams in future talks.
In addition, through the new Constitutional Amendment Implementing Committee and its recent intuitive to remove the 25% veto of the military MPs, the parliament is also charting untested waters. While the task at hand may seem insurmountable, the fact that this is issue is being debated and discussed indicates that reforms do seem to be having a larger effect. However, the outcome of the discussions will depend mainly on the desires of the military, who do, nonetheless, seem willing to engage and all political parties.
Political Monitor 4 15 – 21 February
The visit by the Investigation Commission to probe the recent outbreak of violence in Ducheertan village between the Rohingya and Rakhine communities once again raises questions about the authorities’ ability to maintain law and order. While the Commission’s formation and its mandate may be following normal democratic practices, its existence will become irrelevant if it fails to bring justice to the perpetrators and in preventing future outbreaks of violence.
The government’s responses to recent and past communal clashes has been slow, but, more importantly, it has not taken not enough action against instigators and to promote reconciliation between the two communities. The mere formation of commissions and compiling of reports and recommendations will not be enough to solve the deep-rooted communal conflicts prevailing in Burma. The government will also need to consult with other key political leaders in reaching and implementing decisive decisions in resolving the conflicts. Community, religious leaders and civil society organisations at all levels also have a role to play in defusing tension and promoting peace. And in the absence of such measures it is likely that similar outbreaks of violence will reoccur.
Political Monitor 3 10 – 14 February
The visit of the German President Gauck to Burma, the first by a German leader in 26 years, is yet another sign of recognition by the international community towards the democratic reform process taking place in the country. The easing of Burmese debt, and the opening of the German trade office as well as the Goethe Institute can be seen as the Germans taking a foot-hole inside the country and possibly seeking to compete with China and Japan.
Burma’s democratization and national reconciliation process on the other hand, has once again been marred by the recent outbreaks of fighting in Kachin State between government troops and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). While peace talks are entering an important juncture, the recent clashes will not have been welcomed and can only prove to be detrimental to the peace process. Furthermore, continued fighting will not help to promote trust between the government and ethnic armed groups, which highlights the importance and need to establish ceasefire monitoring systems and a code of conduct. Under the present circumstances, a code of conduct can help to build trust between the conflicting parties and prevent future outbreaks of fighting. Until such mechanisms can be implemented, it is more than likely that clashes will continue. Therefore, it is imperative that in future peace talks both the government (including the military) and ethnic armed groups should not only consider cease-fire agreements but more importantly find a solution to achieve genuine and sustainable peace.
Political Monitor 2 11 – 17 January
The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP)’s appeal to recruit young members and the National Unity Party (NUP)’s desire to field women candidates in the upcoming elections, are indications of mind-set changes taking shape in Burma regarding politics. Furthermore, the recent appointments in parliament of two female military MPs can also be seen as a shift not only within the military ranks but more importantly providing a platform for the participation of women in day to day politics. While such positive steps are taking place in the political arena, the sensitive and contentious peace process has been marred by news of further clashes between government forces and military units under KNLA 5th Brigade in Northern Papun Township, Karen State. Time and again, the need to monitor cease-fire agreements have been called for but to date have yet to be implemented. And until such mechanisms are put in place, similar clashes will no doubt occur and could destabilize the government’s on-going peace initiative.
Political Monitor 1 1 – 10 January
The granting of a Presidential pardon and meetings with ethnic KNU leaders in the New Year augurs well for the national reconciliation process in Burma. However, continued skirmishes between government troops and ethnic armed groups in Kyaukme and Namtsan Townships, Shan State will cast further doubts towards the on-going peace process. Burma is now entering a sensitive stage in its political transition and signs of progress under the leadership of President Thein Sein have emerged. The democratic reforms are at an early stage and the debate in parliament to amend the 2008 Constitution will no doubt become a pivotal factor in shaping the political developments in 2014 and beyond. And the list of issues and events are not limited but also include electoral, census, land rights, education, investment and economic reform to guarantee the rights of all peoples. And in addressing such a wide array of issues and conflicts based on ethnic, political and religious backgrounds, President Thein Sein will need to be sincere, honest and most importantly conduct an all-inclusive political dialogue. In doing so, different ethnic groups, civil society, the government and the military (Tatmadaw) will all need to take part and be committed if there is to be peace and democratic transition in the country.
Political Monitor 42 7 – 13 December
The visits to China by the delegations from the ruling Union Solidarity and Development (USDP) and opposition NLD parties show signs that Beijing is seeking to strengthen ties with the two main political parties in Burma. At a time when Chinese-backed projects in Burma are being targeted by protests as well as anti-China sentiments surfacing among the grass-roots in Burma, the NLD’s visit can be seen more as an attempt to gain support. But more importantly, could pave the way for the Chinese government to become more involved in the on-going democratic process. And to show its goodwill, China will need to take into consideration developments on the ground and also understand the changing political context of its engagements. Regardless of the outcome, the visit will have served as an opportunity for promoting and further strengthening of ties between Beijing and the NLD. China will now need to find a middle ground in dealing not only with the government in Naypyitaw but also in maintaining its special ‘paukphaw’ friendship status and thus becoming a key player in the Burmese democratic reform process. The KNU and KPP call for all Karen sub-groups to register as simply Karen or Kayin underlines the concern all ethnic groups have with the official listing of 135 ‘races’ that the government is using as the basis for the 2014 census. The list has many serious flaws. For example – Pwo Karen, the major sub-group like Sqaw, is not listed while minor sub-groups of both the Sgaw and Pwo are listed.
Political Monitor 41 30 November – 6 December
Burma’s reform process has not been easy and calls to amend the 2008 Constitution and resolving the long-standing ethnic conflicts have now become more pertinent than ever before. While President Thein Sein, his government including both houses of parliament have been implementing measures to achieve peace and reconciliation, the question on the involvement of the military in the both processes still remains unclear. The recent comments by Burma’s Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing that” the current military is already a federally constituted institution, appears to be a rejection on the formation of a ‘federal union army’. However, if the military is fully committed towards national reconciliation, its leaders should consider the demilitarization and redeployment of troops in key areas, as well as institutional solutions that seek to afford ethnic minority rights. On a similar note, demands for constitutional amendments are increasing day by day. Whether the Parliamentary Committee is able to provide a satisfactory outcome on amending the certain provisions of the 2008 Constitution remains to be seen.
Political Monitor 40 23 – 29 November
The continuing ethnic conflicts and demands to amend the 2008 Constitution are currently the major challenges and obstacles to the democratisation and reform process underway in Burma. Despite the numerous cease-fire agreements being signed fighting continues in some ethnic regions thus raising doubts on the way forward in achieving sustainable peace. The government will therefore need to ensure that the current peace agreements are followed up by political and social reforms, but, more importantly, they must ensure that all relevant conflict parties are involved in the process. The recent calls for the involvement of the military in the peace process once again highlights the importance of the issue and that any deals or agreements done without the approval and backing of the Tatmadaw will be difficult and unsustainable. To date, the government has not been able to reassure the ethnic armed groups that both the government and the military are on the same wave length. The military has traditionally portrayed itself as the sole guarantor of national unity and national sovereignty but to date has opted not to interfere with the democratic reforms but has remained tight-lipped with regards to the calls to amend the Constitution. Therefore, steps or measures taken to erode or diminish the role of the military will no doubt be met with resistance within the military leadership. The path towards genuine peace and self-determination for all the peoples of Burma will not be easy and if it is to achieve its goals will require not only commitment but the participation of all stakeholders including the military.
Political Monitor 39 16 - 22 November
The unhappiness and dissatisfaction towards the existing 2008 Constitution was once again reflected and echoed in the 10-point statement issued at the recent the Chin Conference in Hakha. The government has thus far failed to win over its critics and the recent postponement by the parliamentary panel to extend its deadline to deliver its report by 31 December will not have helped its cause. One of the reasons to postpone the deadline was to allow and incorporate additional proposals including those from ethnic armed groups involved peace talks with the government though many are of the feeling that this may not be the case. The current constitution has contentious clauses including the automatic election of 25 per cent of parliamentary seats to the military as well as barring of Burmese nationals whose relatives are foreign citizens or hold foreign citizenship from serving as President. Therefore, the constitutional review process could yet become not only another major challenge but also a pivotal step towards democratic transition. The government will therefore need to handle the issue with care since any debate or discussion defining the role of the military (Tatmadaw) in the country’s politics could proved to be counter-productive and jeopardize what is already a fragile reform process.
Political Monitor 38 2 – 15 November
The holding of the EU-Myanmar Task Force meeting in Naypyitaw shows signs that relations between the two are entering an important phase after decades of non-engagement. The Task Force which aims to promote better relations between the two will allow Burma to learn more about democracy while on the other provide the EU the chance in shaping Burma’s political future including the elections in 2015. On a more wider scale, the EU’s presence in Burma could extend beyond its borders and in serving to promote its influence in South-East Asia region. While the Burmese leadership has vowed to bring democratic changes to the country, the path in achieving it remains a major challenge. Burma has been isolated for half a century and national reconciliation process remains fragile and unclear. Under such circumstances, it is important that Burma be allowed to develop its own democratic model based on its needs and more importantly be given time to make progress.
Political Monitor 37 26 October – 1 November 2013
The recent talks between the government and representatives from 17 ethnic armed groups aimed at ending decades of fighting ended without agreement on signing a nationwide ceasefire. However, the fact that such a meeting could take place reflects the will of the government and ethnic groups to achieve peace. While the meetings in Laiza and Myitkyina will serve as major steps in achieving national reconciliation, it remains unclear on how and when the nationwide ceasefire will take place. In spite of these achievements, there is still some distrust on the part of the armed ethnic groups toward the peace process. Decades of fighting has seen local populations in ethnic areas displaced including the loss of homes and livelihoods as well as cases of human rights abuses. Under such circumstances, trust between all stakeholders will be crucial if a nationwide ceasefire is to become a reality.
Burma’s political transition is now entering an important stage and for it to be genuine and enduring it is critical that all stakeholders, including members of all ethnic armed groups, political parties, civil society organizations, lawmakers, and military and government leaders, be part of the political dialogue process. More importantly, the ethnic groups must be given the right to manage their future and work together with the government to bring peace to the country.
Political Monitor 36 19 – 25 October 2013
The agreement between the KNPP and government has provided yet another crucial and important piece to the jig-saw in achieving peace and reconciliation in Burma. The peace talks are merely a first step of the peace process which entails a code of conduct, monitoring and promotion and implementation of development in areas of conflict. However, economic development, the rights and protections of ethnic languages, cultures and religions are also key in achieving harmony, and the government will therefore need to consider adopting a comprehensive strategy to address such matters while implementing peace efforts. To that end, the statement issued by the Union Parliament urging for peace is timely and welcome. Despite the series of talks and cease-fire agreements signed, the continued fighting in ethnic areas casts doubts surrounding the peace initiatives and thus the calls for a political dialogue becomes more valid than ever before. The government will need to deliver and show its commitment to the peace process, though the question remains whether the Tatmadaw (military) is prepared to follow the agenda of the President.
Political Monitor 35 12 – 18 October 2013
The recent spate of bombings in Burma has once again, shown that the country’s reforms and national reconciliation processes remain fragile and unclear. While no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, Burma has in the past witnessed similar bomb attacks during the times of the military regime after 1988. However, the recent bombings come at a time when Burma is preparing to host the South-East Asian Games in December and to chair ASEAN in 2014. Though the extent of damage and death toll has been minimal, it is clear that the aim of these attacks was designed to alarm and destabilize the country and people. Similarly, Burma has witnessed outbreaks of communal violence in the past year and that the recent bomb attacks could trigger more unrest. Blaming and finger-pointing will not be the answer in resolving these attacks. The authorities will need to implement initiatives and measure to regain public trust and more importantly prevent prevent such attacks from re-occuring in the future. Despite the achievements and progresses made since taking office, President Thein Sein is still confronted with resolving fundamental questions regarding the peace process as well as the calls for constitutional amendments. And if not handled correctly, could derail not only the national reconciliation process but also jeopardize the country's democratic transition.
Political Monitor 345 – 11 October 2013
Burma’s assumption of the Chairmanship of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) could not have come at a more crucial juncture in time. Since it became a member in 1997, Burma has been the focus of attention of the regional group for its failures in addressing human rights violations, staged sham elections in 2010 and the continued detention of political prisoners. In taking the Chair of ASEAN, Burma will once again become the centre of attention, not only in handling the long-list of meetings, but it will also be closely scrutinized on the manner in which it addresses the on-going democratic reforms as well as undertaking its international responsibilities.
Since taking office, President Thein Sein has introduced political and economic reforms as well as implementing a peace-process in ending decades of fighting between the government and ethnic armed groups. While progress has been made in some, one area which has failed to make progress and remains a major concern is the continued outbreaks of unrest between Buddhists and Muslim communities in some regions and states. The government has thus far failed to prevent sectarian clashes between Buddhists and Muslims and this will no doubt become a key area of interest for certain ASEAN member states. Burma will indeed be pressured to resolve the violence between the communities during its tenure of its Chairmanship. At first glance, the unrest have taken the nature of a conflict between Muslims and Buddhists, but they should be rather seen as a constitutional and human rights issue.
Burma has its work cut out as it strives to regain its place among the international community. The ASEAN Charter commits its members (including Burma) “to strengthen democracy, enhance good governance and the rule of law and to promote human rights and fundamental freedom”. To that end, assuming the function of the ASEAN Chair is the beginning in the realisation of the provisions of the Charter for Burma, its leaders now have the chance to show and prove to the world that the current democratic reforms are genuine and, more importantly, irreversible. ASEAN and the international community should encourage the Burmese authorities to continue to move in the right direction and provide assistance to ensure a smooth transition.
Political Monitor 33 28 September – 4 October 2013
The latest outbreak of sectarian violence in Thandwe, Rakhine State is yet another stark reminder that Burma’s reform process is riddled with issues left unattended by previous successive governments. Since coming to power, President Thein Sein has embarked on a path to national reconciliation and nation-building while, at the same time, promoting democratic norms. However, communal unrests have now become a series of episodes where individuals from the Buddhist community have reportedly been aggrieved by a Muslim, which in turn has ignited mobs rampaging Muslim neighbourhoods. And each unrest has left hundreds dead and thousands displaced but failed to root out the causes of the violence. While the President has stated openly and announced a ‘zero-tolerance approach’ of the issue, his government has been unable to prevent communal unrests during the past two years. That indeed has raised questions on the government’s ability to handle the issue and, more importantly, to adopt more practical and result-oriented measures. While the government has adopted a more hands on approach in responding to the communal riots, it has once again overlooked the functions and use of civil society and local communities. A viable and more practical solution would be the creation of space for civil society and community organisations to help ease tensions and build trust. In order to achieve these goals, all initiatives and measures to end the grievances and rifts must come from within the communities concerned and the authorities should assume the role of providing assistance where needed. However, much more needs to be done to avoid such communal unrests. The government must act immediately and more responsively to crack down on religious intolerance and failure to do so, could indeed jeopardize not only the national reconciliation process but also the democratic reforms in Burma.
Political Monitor 32 21 - 27 September 2013
The visit by the Elders and their meetings with Myanmar leaders, opposition parties, civil society organizations and ethnic groups will have provided the international community further insights and a better understanding on the reform process. Similarly, the EU’s offer to provide expert and technical assistance augurs well that the elections in 2015 will be free and fair. Despite these preparations, the calls to review and even rewrite the controversial 2008 constitution will become a major challenge in the run-up to the elections. However, it is crucial to note that discussions on such sensitive issues will take time and may not be able to accommodate the wishes and desires of all interested parties and groups. Furthermore, consideration also needs to be taken with regards to the response of the military (Tatmadaw) as such debate will bring into question its role. Another key factor is the on-going peace process, through which several cease-fire agreements have been signed, but has yet to achieve peace. President Thein Sein will need to skilfully manage to accommodate both the Tatmadaw and ethnic groups to join the democratic reform process. Other leaders from political groups and ethnic groups must also be ready to make such sacrifices in the interest of the nation.
Political Monitor 31 14 - 20 September 2013
President Thein Sein’s meeting with the 88 Generation Students Group is yet another step in achieving national reconciliation and serves as a basis for the inclusion of civil society groups in the current democratic reform process. The Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP) meeting held in Taunggyi to discuss potential changes to the Constitution reflects the growing concerns of the issue and if not handled in the right manner could jeopardize the country’s fragile political future. While discussions on amending the Constitution are crucial and key in the current political process, prolonged debates and unraveling of it should be avoided at all costs. Failing to do so, could affect not only the peace process but also preparations for the 2015 elections. Transition to democracy has not been easy and cannot be achieved easily and will need understanding and more importantly readiness by all stakeholders to make compromises. In this regard, the government should take the lead in implementing measures working hand in hand with all political parties, ethnic groups to ensure a successful outcome of the on-going democratic reforms in Myanmar.
Political Monitor 30 7- 13 September 2013
The most recent round of talks between the Working Group for Ethnic Coordination (WGEC) and government formed Myanmar Peace Centre (MPC) has seen the acceptance in principle on the nationwide ceasefire accord. While many issues of concerns to both sides remain unclear, the outcome of the talks can be seen as a step in the right direction. However, beyond this step and despite the government’s attempt in declaring peace and reconciliation, the continued bolstering of its military presence and armed clashes in the Shan and Kachin States casts further doubts on the commitment by the government towards national reconciliation. More importantly, it also raises questions on the guarded nature of the military (Tatmadaw) in the peace process and its relationship vis-à-vis to President Thein Sein’s government. And if the government is committed in resolving the ethnic problems, it will need to review the failures by past governments in fulfilling the political aspirations of the ethnic nationalities but also in seeking the endorsement of the Myanmar military, which has remained as an autonomous institution with its own set agenda. The government will thus not only need to expand its political space, but also formulate initiatives that will meet the demands of all stakeholders involved if the peace process is to become a reality.
Political Monitor 29 31 Aug - 6 September 2013
President Thein Sein’s meeting with Chinese leaders are signs that the special ‘pauk-phaw’ friendship has not been affected by the recent shift in policy by the West. However, the visit will have given a stark reminder to both governments in Beijing and Naypyitaw that cooperation and understanding are key factors if ties between the two are to become beneficially mutual. And thus, if Sino-Myanmar relations are true it words as being a special ‘pauk-phaw’ friendship, both countries will need to adopt flexible policies of engagement and more importantly respect.
On the domestic front, the various meetings between Vice President Mauk Kham, Speaker Thura Shwe Mann and leaders of ethnic armed groups is yet another step towards national reconciliation. Meetings and statements alone will not be enough to achieve peace and stability. The government including the military (Tatmadaw) and all stakeholders will need to find a common ground and without which Myanmar’s search for national reconciliation and peace will remain more elusive than ever before.
Political Monitor 28 24 - 30 August 2013
Myanmar’s democratic transition and its efforts in ending decades of fighting and deep-rooted national divide, has once again been confronted by the communal unrests in Htan Kon, Sagaing Region and clashes in Shan and Kachin States. The latest violence in Sagaing Region is not only a sign of a more dangerous trend but more importantly it highlights the failure of the government in addressing anti-Muslim sentiments in the country. Myanmar’s current reform process cannot be seen as truly democratic and peaceful when political, racial and religious freedom of individuals cannot be protected and practiced freely. While confronting intra-communal unrests, the government will also need to find ways in to achieve genuine peace with the all ethnic nationalities. All forms of fighting must be ended and a nation-wide political dialogue with all stakeholders must be established to achieve peace.
Political Monitor 27 20 - 26 July 2013
The visit by Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission General Fan Changlong once again is an indication on China’s concerns as the government in Naypyitaw realigns its foreign policy towards the US and EU countries. Fan’s visit will no doubt bring reassurance and promote the special “Phauk-phaw” friendship which has become a key in Sino-Myanmar relations. In the past, when Western powers shunned Myanmar for its right abuses and imposed economic sanctions, China enjoyed unrivalled access and privileges from its neighbour. However, the winds of change have blown and President Thein Sein’s reform process has been welcomed and acknowledge by the west and Beijing must now not only accommodate Myanmar but also acknowledge the growing presence of Western governments in the country. And if Beijing is keen to reassert its influence in Myanmar, it will do well in engaging with not only the government in Naypyitaw but in gaining the trust of the Myanmar public. The multi-billion dollar Myitsone dam project funded by the Chinese has caused nation-wide anger and led to protests in Myanmar. Under such circumstances, China will first need to promote its image and to do so adopt environmentally friendly and socially accepted norms and practices in pursuing its economic interests in Myanmar. Similarly, the Chinese government due to its close ties and geographic nature has become more involved with the on-going democratic transition and national reconciliation process. However, such involvement will need to be explored with caution by both sides.
Political Monitor 26 13 - 19 July 2013
The signing of the 5-point agreement between the government and Wa Special Region is yet another step in working towards reaching ceasefire agreements and establishing stability in the country. Similarly, the visits to the United Kingdom and France by President Thein Sein are also clear indications that Myanmar is making progress in restoring normalisation ties with the international community. While the visit has helped in promoting the current on-going reform process, it has not been able to avoid strong criticism on the Myanmar government’s handling of the communal unrest and sensitive political prisoner’s issue. President Thein Sein has promised that all remaining political prisoners would be freed by year’s end. Whether the President honours his promise or chooses not to do so remains to be seen.
While President Thein Sein has stressed the importance of political dialogue between the government and various ethnic armed groups, the existence of multiple armed groups as well as the varying nature of the needs of individual groups has proven that the on-going peace process is complex. Under such circumstances, the government, the ethnic armed groups and all stakeholders in the peace process will need space, increased capacity and consultations with their respective communities in order to positively move forward with the ongoing national reconciliation process.
Political Monitor 25 6 - 12 July 2013
While there have been some welcome positive changes in Myanmar, many challenges and obstacles still remain before sustainable peace is reached. And if the long-standing ethnic conflict in the country is to become a reality the government will need to seek the support and cooperation of the Tatmadaw (military) and failure to do so can only jeopardize the country’s national reconciliation and democratic process.
Political Monitor 24 29 June - 5 July 2013
President Thein Sein in addressing the nation has reaffirmed that the on-going democratic reforms will not return to the dark days of the previous ruling military junta. However, the latest communal unrests in Thandwe, Rakhine State and past communal clashes have raised concerns about the fragility of the Burmese democratic reforms and the President’s appeals to end communal violence are less than convincing given the absence of any government measures to stem anti-Muslim sentiments and prevent future outbreaks from reoccurring. These underlying tensions that are rooted in discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities pose a threat to Myanmar’s democratic transition and stability and the international community at large is watching to see how the reformist government will handle these challenges.
The call by Lower House Speaker Thura Shwe Mann for the direct of involvement of Parliament in the on-going peace process and the unusual step in calling a meeting of the country’s National Defence and Security Council (NDSC) are signs reflecting the growing role of the legislature in Myanmar politics. More importantly, such steps are being seen more as Shwe Mann raising questions on the President’s handling of the on-going peace talks but more importantly signalling that a political rivalry between the two leaders could be developing. However, it is important to remember that in the lead up to the 2015 elections both President Thein Sein and Speaker Shwe Mann will need the support of not only the USDP party but also the allegiance of the military in order that their political ambitions can be a reality. While talks of rivalries between the government and Parliament as well as power dynamics gradually emerging between prominent political figures, it is important to remember that an inclusive political process is a pre-requisite and a must in achieving democracy. It is the government, together with political parties, ethnic nationalities and the people who need to work together in deciding the way forward for Myanmar.
Political Monitor 23 22 - 28 June 2013
President Thein Sein highlighted that political, economic and social stability are key requisites in the successful implementation of the current democratic reforms in the country. In his address to the Planning Commission, he has emphasized the importance in ending decades of fighting with ethnic armed groups and that his government is keen to implement a nation-wide ceasefire agreement in the near future. The President has repeatedly affirmed his commitment in achieving national reconciliation; though the on-going clashes between the Burmese Army and ethnic armed groups in both the Kachin and Shan States have cast suspicion on the government’s commitment to the peace process. The clashes raise questions not only on the successful holding of a nation-wide ceasefire agreement but more importantly if the President can control the military (Tatmadaw).
Political Monitor 22 15 - 21 June 2013
The ceasefire agreement between the government and KNPP, Aung San Suu Kyi’s meeting with RCSS leader Yawd Serk and receiving leaders of 5 ethnic parties are indeed positive signs of progress. The discussions on federalism and amending the existing 2008 constitution are now gaining momentum as the country prepares for the elections in 2015. Currently, it would seem that talks are moving smoothly and political parties with different backgrounds have become allies. Whether such informal groupings of political parties are able to maintain their shared values remains to be seen. Similarly, the submission of the long-awaited “Comprehensive National Peace and Ceasefire Agreement” draft to the government by ethnic groups could become a key initiative in ending decades of fighting. While no immediate response has been made by the government on the contents of the National Peace Agreement, it has however willingness to hold a meeting with national ethnic groups and to sign a nation-wide ceasefire. It remains to be seen as to how this peace initiative will unfold in the coming months.
That being said, the continued fighting between the Kachin Independent Army (KIA) and government troops once again is putting to test whether the political transition underway in Myanmar is sustainable and more importantly achievable. While the signing of ceasefire agreements between the government and ethnic armed groups has been achieved on one hand, the actual implementation has become a major challenge on the other. And in order to avoid such skirmishes, it will be necessary to establish an effective monitoring mechanism as well as public participation in the peace talks will become key components in implementing the peace process and ending decades of fighting in Myanmar.
Political Monitor 21 8 - 14 June 2013
The meeting between President Thein Sein and Shan State Army (SSA) chief Yawd Serk and the meeting between Shan leaders from the SNLD and SSA has given Burma’s national reconciliation process a much needed boost. While the meeting between Thein Sein and Yawd Serk was more focused on dispelling suspicion and building trust between the two sides, SNLD leader Hkun Tun Oo and Yawd Serk’s meeting was more to promote matters of common interest to ethnic Shan nationals. The two unprecedented high-level meetings will contribute to the bringing of peace to Burma.
The decision by 15 ethnic-based parties to form the Federated Union Party (FUP) has been welcomed by many as an important step in promoting not only ethnic unity but also party politics in Burma. The FUP was formed to rival the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and the National League for Democracy (NLD). Such initiatives could play a key role in moving party politics in Burma away from being ethnic-based to policy-based.
The recent clashes between government troops and KIO forces reflects the reality that on-going peace talks with ethnic armed groups have yet to yield the desired results. Such clashes jeopardize the peace process and once again highlights the need to implement effective monitoring mechanisms. The government and KIO signed a 7-point agreement recently and judging from the latest skirmishes, it would seem that both sides have failed to live up to their commitments. It is clear that the mere signing of agreements alone will not bring an end to the fighting. Ceasefire monitoring and a political dialogue needs to be implemented immediately.
Political Monitor 20 1 - 7 June 2013
The holding of the 22nd World Economic Forum has once again brought Burma under the spotlight of the international community while at the same time the country continues its path to democratic transition. The Forum will provide Burma an opportunity to showcase to the outside world its economic credentials but also to attract would-be investors to venture into a country which for decades has been in seclusion. At such an important juncture in time, the 3-day forum will not only be an opportune moment for the government to promote its image economically but more importantly its commitment in implementing democratic reforms in Burma.
The calls made by 40 Karen community organisations for the public to be more involved in the decision making-process are signs that the armed groups are taking the opinion of their communities seriously. This bodes well for democratization and getting a political solution that is acceptable to the people.
Similarly, the recent visit of Chief of the Defense Staff of British Armed Forces General Sir David Richards to Burma is indeed a significant step in broadening bilateral relations between Burma and the United Kingdom. General Richard’s visit to Burma is a reflection of the importance attached by the UK in building relations with the Burmese military, which remains not only powerful but integral to the country’s leadership and the on-going reform process. The visit will also provide Britain to monitor and better understand the dynamics of the country’s political environment but help in promoting engagement with the Tatmadaw (Burmese Army), which in the past had been non-existent. Britain’s offer of assistance on security sector reform and the possibility of training cooperation between the two armed forces as well as the appointment of a full-time military attaché in Yangon will enhance its ties with Burma. And in doing so, Britain and other international community should monitor closely the democratic transition in Burma and more importantly to ensure the reforms become irreversible.
Political Monitor 19 18 - 31 May 2013
The signing of a 7-point agreement between the government and the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) as well as President Thein Sein’s visit to Washington and Japanese Premier Abe’s visit to Burma have been welcomed as positive steps in the right direction. The latest agreement between the government’s peace-making team and the KIO has paved the way for holding political dialogue between the two sides, which in the past had been regarded as a sensitive an issue. Indeed many have welcomed the agreement as an achievement and it is hoped that the latest round of talks will help to bridge the differences and more importantly foster friendship and trust. Crucially important and key to the success of the peace talks will be the implementation of capacity building measures at all levels of government including the relations between the Tatmadaw (military) and the KIO. To that end, the attendance to the talks by the Commander-in-Chief (Army) Lt-Gen Myint Soe will no doubt have been welcomed and provided the much needed impetus towards the peace process. That being said, the government and the Tatmadaw (military) will now need to deliver on its words in holding political dialogue with the KIO and other ethnic armed groups, if it is committed in achieving peace.
The visits by President Thein Sein to the US and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Burma, once again reflect the recognition on the democratic reform process unfolding inside Burma. Both visits will have served in promoting ties and interests for the two western powers but more importantly will have provided an opportunity for the Burmese government to navigate a path to counter the influence of China in Burma. At a crucial juncture in time, the aid and assistance by Japan will not only boost the Burmese economy but also in improving the country’s infrastructure. Similarly, Washington has a two-pronged approach - assisting the Burmese political reforms and countering the rising power and influence of China in the region. The truth of the matter remains unclear but the US could become and play a key role the Burmese reform process by forging closer ties and providing technical assistance and strengthening capacity building of government institutions including the Tatmadaw (military). While the US and Japan may have different interests in Burma, the two have become key players in the democratic process but it will be the Burmese leader himself who will determine the outcome.
On a more sombre note, the latest outbreak of communal and sectarian unrests in Lashio, Shan State will not have helped the on-going political reform process. The recent unrests are a clear indication that the government has failed in addressing the ethno-religious issues in the country. Investigations conducted by the government to probe past communal and sectarian riots in Rakhine, Meiktila and Bago have not looked deeply into the root causes of the problem and consequently led to the recent violence in Lashio. It is therefore is clear that until such issues are addressed in such a manner where the application on the rule of law and the rights of minorities are fully respected, further outbreaks of communal unrests will remain imminent.
Political Monitor 18 11 - 17 May 2013
Recent clashes in the Shan State between government forces and several of the cease-fire groups has once again put the peace process in the country under scrutiny and casted doubts on its future. The government as always has responded by dispatching its negotiators to mend fences and restore normalcy with the ethnic groups. The talks helped in ending the latest skirmishes between Burmese forces and the armed groups in the Shan State. However, it cannot be assumed that the truce will lead to permanent peace. Intrusions by government forces and ethnic armed groups alike were the cause of the recent clashes and points to the need to implement cease-fire monitoring. Many of the 13 cease-fire agreements signed by the government provide for cease-fire monitoring but none have been implemented. Given that the on-going ethnic conflicts have existed for decades, without cease-fire monitoring, and a political dialogue, peace cannot be achieved in Burma. Therefore the government needs to take the initiative to implement cease-fire monitoring and begin a political dialogue with all stakeholders including the ethnic armed groups.
Political Monitor 17 27 April - 10 May 2013
The communal riots in Oakkan, Bago Region and the outbreak of fighting between the Burmese Army and Shan State Army (SSA) in recent weeks once again has created uncertainty regarding the on-going reform process in Burma. The violence in Oakkan, similar to those in Rakhine State and Meiktila has seen Buddhists and Muslim communities taking law into their own hands and subsequently ending up into mob violence. The government on its part, has managed to contain the violence on each occasion, but has been unable to find a lasting solution to address the issue. The unrests have created an air of mistrust and animosity between the two communities and will need not only time to heal but more importantly the desire to live in an integrated society. And until such times, the racial divide will remain a major challenge for President Thein Sein. Similarly, the outbreak of fighting in Namkham Township between the Burmese Army and the SSA (South) has casts doubts on the sincerity of the government’s desire in achieving peace with ethnic armed groups. While a cease-fire agreement between the two sides was signed in December 2011, the latest fighting will not be in the best interest of either parties but create mistrust.
Political Monitor 16 20 - 26 April 2013
The recent clashes between local villagers and riot police in Sete village on 25 April have once again ignited the unresolved problem of the Letpadaungtaung copper mine project in Monywa region. Since the mine protests began in February 2012, the government on its part has established a 15-member ministerial implementation body led by Minister at the President’s Office U Hla Tun, to address the issue and but it has thus far failed to deliver on its mandate. The question of the Letpadaungtaung mine has attracted attention not only for its economic interests but more importantly on how the government handles peaceful protests and land rights issues. The continued clashes therefore raises doubts as to the success of the on-going reforms and the government’s genuine commitment to bring about real changes in the country. On a more positive note, the release of 93 prisoners under a Presidential amnesty should be welcomed. However, a cause for concern is the plight of those still under detention throughout the country. The authorities should consider releasing all remaining political prisoners in the true spirit of achieving national reconciliation.
Political Monitor 15 13 - 19 April 2013
President’s Office Minister U Aung Min’s visit to the UK to discuss the peace process is a welcome sign but it also illustrates the keen interest of superpowers including China and Japan to get involved in Burmese affairs and shape it to their liking. This is a dangerous development if the powers believe that they can use money and influence to interfere in matters they have no understanding of. The Burmese New Year has also witnessed the ushering in of both positive and negative developments in Myanmar’s path to democratization. From a positive perspective, the meeting between the government’s peace-making committee and the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) can be seen as a step in the right direction while the reoccurrence of fighting with the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) is a step in the opposite direction. This once again highlights the need for both the government and ethnic armed groups to abide by and implement the terms of their ceasefire agreements. Otherwise, the President’s desire for national solidarity and peace will not be achieved.
Political Monitor 14 30 March – 12 April 2013
The visits by foreign dignitaries including former US President Carter are signs that ties between Burma and the international community are slowly returning to normalcy. The Burmese President’s meetings with the new leadership in Beijing once again reaffirm the importance of maintaining the special “phaukphaw” friendship and that Sino-Burma relations will remain strong. While the country’s re-emergence on to the international scene has been making progress, a vast array of internal problems remain unresolved. President Thein Sein since taking office has been confronted with communal unrests in Rakhine State in 2012 and most recently in Meiktila. While the government has taken immediate steps to prevent future outbreaks from reoccurring, the reality shows that it has not been able to do so. Questions are now being asked on how best to resolve the conflict between Buddhist and Muslim communities. Until such issues of intra-community as well as reconciliation with ethnic minorities groups are addressed in a satisfactory manner Burma’s democratization process will remain uncertain and fragile. The recent fire at a mosque in Yangon killing 13 children that raised concerns, once again highlights the sensitivity of the issue.
Political Monitor 13 23 – 29 March 2013
The Kachin conflict which has taken back seat to the recent unrests in Meiktila has seen skirmishes reoccurring in Kachin and northern Shan State.While peace talks have been held, it has not been able to prevent outbreaks of fighting between the armed forces of the two sides. Questions will indeed be raised yet again on the commitment of the government and KIA in achieving peace. Both sides should consider options to avoid further clashes and to bring all stakeholders including the Tatmadaw to the negotiating table in striving to attain durable peace. Article 339 of the current Constitution stipulates that “The Defence Services shall lead in safeguarding the Union against all internal and external dangers” and therefore the Defence Services should act accordingly and become more involved in the peace process. Any agreements in the absence of the Tatmadaw will not be sustainable.
Political Monitor 12 16 – 22 March 2013
Burma’s fragile path to democratic reforms has once again been marred by another outbreak of communal unrests between Buddhists and Muslim communities. The unrest which reportedly began from a disagreement in a gold-smith’s shop in Meiktila, Mandalay Region, and turned into mob violence spreading to several other towns has once again highlighted the unwillingness or inability of local authorities to intervene as front-line actors. While the central government reacted quicker to the latest incident than it did in Rakhine State in 2012, it has fallen short in addressing the underlying issues and putting in place effective measures to avoid future racial and communal riots. Reports of Buddhists monks instigating the unrest are disturbing. The urgent need for the rule of law, as well as the building of understanding and mutual respect between all races and religions in Burma, is clear. While the reform process has been making headway with laws on the freedom of speech, assembly and many other liberal laws, one crucial segment that has been overlooked is the existing bureaucratic system of governance. Indeed if the democratic reforms are to succeed and further outbreaks of violence are to be avoided in the future, the central government must put in place measures to address such sensitive issues at the local level.
Political Monitor 11 9 – 15 March 2013
With little or no change in the leadership of the NLD, the acceptance by Burma’s parliament to set up a commission to review the 2008 constitution has in a way provided welcome news for the democratic reform process in the country.It is indeed timely for those who have long urged for a review as well as amending the current constitution due to its undemocratic nature. However, the manner of the review process remains unclear. At the same time, it is also important to note that unravelling the constitution in its entirety or partially will neither be easy nor meet the expectations of all stakeholders. Under such circumstances, the role to be taken by parliament in leading the review process will provide Burmese parliamentarians the opportunity to prove their democratic credentials in not only shaping the future of the country but also serving its people.
Political Monitor 10 2 – 8 March 2013
President Thein Sein’s five nation tour of Europe is a clear indication of the Burmese government’s eagerness to re-engage with the EU and its members. In the past, due to the sanctions imposed by the EU on Burma, engagement at the highest level was unthinkable. The meetings in Brussels with the presidents of the EU Council, Parliament and Commission are signs that cooperation and readiness to engage with Burma are now gaining momentum. The Burmese leader in meeting his counterparts and EU officials urged for the complete removal of sanctions as well as reinstating the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) to Burma. The EU on its part while welcoming the reform process has committed more flow of aid to the country while at the same time adopting a wait and see approach. The realisation by both the EU and Burma of the need to enter a phase of engagement and cooperation will indeed promote better relations and understanding between the two. As part of its re-engagement policy, the EU has been in the fore-front in providing assistance to end the conflict between the government and ethnic armed groups.
Political Monitor 9 23 February – 1 March 2013
At a time when peace talks are taking shape and calls for the inclusion of women groups in future peace talks are being mooted, the reoccurrence of fighting between government forces and the Restoration Council of Shan State/ Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) during the past week, will not help the national reconciliation process. However, if left unresolved, the fighting could increase mistrust between the government and cease-fire groups, and even as it did in the Kachin case. Similarly, the increased military presence in KNU controlled territory along the Italian-Thai Development Project road, has become a cause for concern recently. If the cease-fires are to hold, monitoring is necessary. The government has agreed to ceasefire monitoring in several of the agreements it has signed. But once again, implementation is a problem. Unless the government can implement the ceasefire agreements it has signed, the whole peace process can unravel.
Political Monitor 8 16 – 22 February 2013
The recent meetings between government and ethnic leaders from the RCSS (Shan) and KNU as well as with the UNFC alliance augurs well for the peace process and it will enhance the building of trust. It is evident from the topics discussed that the on-going national reconciliation process cannot be achieved overnight nor will it become a reality without the commitment of all key stakeholders involved. It is encouraging that the need for people’s active participation has been recognized. Similarly, the KNU’s request for the inclusion of senior Tatmadaw (military) officials in future peace talks and the discussion on the role of the Tatmadaw in maintaining the existing ceasefires and achieving a sustainable peace are valid points for consideration. If the recent offer ‘to extend the olive branch’ to the KIO by Commander-in-Chief Vice-Senior General Min Aung Hlaing was genuine, the participation of senior military officials in future peace talks could indeed become a reality. Should both the government and ethnic groups in conducting peace talks continue to take into account the interests of the public and local communities and also seek to find ways for the inclusion, the peace process could indeed lead to genuine national reconciliation. The peace process cannot, however, be seen as a political process that is isolated and separated from the political process that is developing in the parliament. The same issues being debated in parliament and how they are resolved are relevant and will have a direct bearing on the outcome of the peace talks. Therefore, at one point in the future, the two processes will need to merge or intersect. How that will happen is something that needs to be addressed. Hopefully the Framework for a Political Dialogue that is being proposed will look into this issue.
Political Monitor 7 9 – 15 February 2013
The meeting held between the government and the KIO on 4 February in Shweli, for the moment has brought a reprieve in fighting between the two sides, though any form of a permanent ceasefire still remains elusive. However, the President’s meeting with representatives from ethnic armed groups who attended the Union Day celebrations in Naypyitaw could become a basis on which to promote and build trust in achieving peace. The Burmese Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing’s invitation extended to the KIO to sit down for peace talks is both timely and welcome. Under the circumstances, it is in the interest of both the government and the KIO to continue talks based on the Shweli meeting to find common ground.
Political Monitor 6 2 – 8 February 2013
The recent talks between the Government and the KIO are welcome developments. Had the fighting escalated, it could have derailed all the Government’s reform initiatives. The question now is if troops on the ground on both sides can be restrained long enough to enable the second talks scheduled for later this month to take place. If the truce holds and if a separation of forces can be implemented, there is a real chance that a political solution and peace can be achieved for the first time since independence as hoped for by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.
But as can be seen by the stance of the RCSS and CNF, much still needs to be debated and discussed including what is meant by a “Panglong Conference”, before substantive progress can be made.
On the Parliamentary front, many issues of importance are finally being addressed – disaster management, amending the penal code, air transport safety, power and rights of regional and state Ministers for National Races Affairs, regulating gold mining, morality and legalized gambling, protection from abuse of power, preservation of cultural heritage, protection of migrant workers
Political Monitor 5 226 January to 1 February 2013
News that the government and KIO are planning to hold talks is welcome news. While details of the scheduled talks remain unclear, the desire to conduct talks in it-self should be seen as a positive step in the right direction. While foreign governments and organizations have expressed concerns, they have been unable to exert their influence in bringing both the government and KIA to the negotiating table. One possible option is for the inclusion of other ethnic groups and civil society organizations to become more involved in the peace process. It is evident that the lack of trust between the government and the KIO remains one of the biggest challenges in resolving the conflict. Recent calls by civil society organizations inside the country, and the offers by various organizations to act as mediators should be taken seriously if the government and the KIO are serious about building genuine peace.
Political Monitor 4 19- 25 January 2013
President Thein Sein announced a ceasefire on 19 January. But on the ground in Kachin State, the Tatmadaw continued its military offensive against KIA positions. The Burmese Parliament has also urged the government to take a firm stand to end the conflict. But to date, the military component of the government has not complied with the desire of the government or the parliament. This has led many to ponder the unity or disunity within the administration regarding the Kachin crisis. The key question between the government and the KIO/KIA is the issue of ‘political dialogue’. While both sides have acknowledged the need to conduct peace talks, the lack of trust as well as understanding between the two sides has fuelled the on-going fighting. The conflict has thus far created animosity on both sides and should the situation remain unchanged could deter not only to the government’s reforms but also disrupt the national reconciliation process. It seems that the government and the KIA cannot resolve the problem by themselves. One possibility would to introduce third-party intervention either by the UN or regional institutions. While this may not be the ideal scenario, the prevailing situation demands the need for a non-biased and most importantly to end the fighting and begin serious talks. And in doing so, both sides should avoid using the blame game tactics but more importantly ready to make compromises if they are genuinely committed in achieving sustainable peace.
Political Monitor 3 12-18 January 2013
The request by the Lower House urging the Union-Level Peace Making Committee to resolve on-going conflict in Kachin State is yet again further reflection on the role of parliament in shaping the country’s political scene. The call made by the President to seek a peaceful solution of the conflict has failed thus far, and whether the recent initiative by the Lower House can achieve its objective remains to be seen. Looking at parliament’s recent achievements, it has been successful in adopting laws legalising microfinance, labour unions and peaceful protests. However, more importantly it has slowly emerged as an effective check and balance on the government. Furthermore, it has also become more dynamic and able to avoid being a mere rubber-stamping institution as was the case of past legislative bodies.
Most significantly, the on-going Pyithu Hluttaw (Lower House) session witnessed the President’s proposed comments on the Constitutional Tribunal over-ruled and voted down. It follows months of disagreements between the union parliament and government over the role of Burma’s constitutional tribunal and ending in the dismissal of all nine judges last September after the parliament voted to impeach them. These distinct and yet crucial undertakings by parliament demonstrates the maturing of Burma’s nascent democracy. And the question that now remains is, if those involved in the fighting will heed to the call by the Lower House. Whatever, the outcome maybe, the need for peace remains a priority without which Burma’s democratic transition will remain fragile and elusive.
Political Monitor 2 1-11 January 2013
The on-going military offensive by government forces to take control of KIA targets close to the rebel strong-hold of Laiza has proven to be costly and with no end in sight. While a Presidential order has been issued to end fighting, it seems that some elements within the government is keen to crush the KIA resistance and gain control over these areas in order to exploit the natural resources and attract foreign investment. The international community on its part has condemned and criticized the recent hostilities, but has failed to achieve any progress. Under the circumstances many feel that the prolongation of the conflict will not serve the interest of either party, since defeat for the KIA would only foster ethnic hatred while the government would be confronted with more challenges in establishing long-lasting peace. It is evident that the two sides harbour two incompatible views on ending the conflict. The KIA like many other ethnic armed groups desire self-autonomy while the government is adamant in upholding the current 2008 constitution and preventing the break-up of the Union. With both the government and the KIA maintaining such rigid positions and reluctance, many feel that the only viable option left is that of convening a Panglong type conference. The government while not ruling out the idea of holding such an event has stated that the time is not yet right to do so and would rather see it prolonged. On the other hand, the KIA and many ethnic armed groups feel that by holding such a conference would allow them to address their issues which have been left discarded since independence in 1948. A compromise on this issue will no doubt be necessary if there is to be genuine peace in the country. To achieve this, it is important for both sides to start negotiating a framework within which they can begin a political dialogue. The President has time and time again, reiterated that he is dedicated to bringing changes to the country including an end to decades of ethnic conflicts. If he is genuinely sincere in changing the destiny of the country, now is the time to do so. His legacy as a reformist leader will in time be judged on his actions than words.
Political Monitor 1 15-31 December 2012
Burma’s political transition and process of reforms implemented by President Thein Sein in 2012 has seen the lifting of print media censorship, freedom of assembly and formation of trade unions as well as some significant economic reforms. The democratic reforms have been welcomed by Western governments and international institutions, and sanctions on Burma have either been lifted or limited. High-level visits have included US President Obama. The decision taken by regional organization of Southeast Asian states, ASEAN, to assume the groups’ presidency in 2014, was another sign of normalization of ties and recognition the country’s international standing. However, Burma’s road to democracy has not been all smooth and trouble-free. In May 2012, communal violence between ethnic Rakhines and Muslim Rohingyas erupted in Rakhine (Arakan) State, near the country's border with Bangladesh. In September, thousands of villagers protested against the expansion of the Lapandantaung Copper Mine in Monywa. The demonstration was the latest example of long-oppressed Burmese citizens testing the limits of their new freedoms after years of authoritarian rule that saw protests routinely stamped out. At such a critical juncture in time, the unprecedented aerial attacks on ethnic Kachin Independence Army (KIA) by government troops have raised questions regarding the sincerity and uncertainty of the government’s reform agenda. However many fear that the present fighting could escalate into a full-scale civil war and set back the on-going reform process. The Kachin issue together with other unresolved problems occurring in the ethnic minority areas is crucial in achieving national reconciliation. If there is to be lasting peace in the country, the need to seek a political solution will be of the utmost importance in addressing the question of ethnic groups and achieving peace. President Thein Sein’s government is now entering a critical juncture in transforming the country and will need to realize that the success of the reforms lie not only with pushing ahead with democratic changes but also in fulfilling the wishes of the people including the ethnic nationalities.
Political Monitor 38 – 8-14 December
Political Monitor 37 – 1-7 December
Political Monitor 36 – 24-30 November
Political Monitor 35 – 17-23 November
Political Monitor 34 – 10-16 November
Political Monitor 33 – 28 October to 9 November
Political Monitor 32 – 20-26 October
Political Monitor 31 – 6-19 October
Political Monitor 30 – 29 September to 5 October
Political Monitor 29 – 22-28 September
Political Monitor 28 – 15-21 September
Political Monitor 27 – 8-14 September
Political Monitor 26 – 1-7 September
Political Monitor 25 – 18 - 31 August
Political Monitor 24 – 11 – 17 August
Political Monitor 23 – 13 July – 10 August
Political Monitor 22 – 6 – 13 July
Political Monitor 21 – 29 June – 5 July
Political Monitor 20 – 23 - 28 June
Political Monitor 19 – 16 - 22 June
Political Monitor 18 – 9 - 15 June
Political Monitor 17 – 1 – 8 June
Political Monitor 16 – 26 to 31 May
Political Monitor 15 – 19 to 25 May
Political Monitor 14 – 5 to 18 May
Political Monitor 13 – 29 April to 4 May
Political Monitor 12 – 22 to 28 April 2012
Political Monitor 11 – 15 to 21 April 2012
Political Monitor 10 – 8-14 April 2012
Political Monitor 9 – 24 March to 7 April 2012
Political Monitor 8 – 17-23 March 2012
Political Monitor 7 – 25 February to 16 March 2012
Political Monitor 6 – 11 – 24 February 2012
Political Monitor 5 – 29 January to 10 February 2012
Political Monitor 4 – 22 - 28 January 2012
Political Monitor 3 – 15 - 21 January 2012
Political Monitor 2 – 8 - 14 January 2012
Political Monitor 1 - 17 December 2011 to 7 January 2012
Political Monitor 38 – 10 - 16 December 2011
Political Monitor 37 – 3 - 9 December 2011
Political Monitor 36 – 26 November – 2 December 2011
Political Monitor 35 – 19 – 25 November 2011
Political Monitor 34 – 12 – 18 November 2011
Political Monitor 33 – 5 – 11 November 2011
Political Monitor 32 – 29 October - 4 November 2011
Political Monitor 31 – 22 – 28 October 2011
Political Monitor 30 – 15 – 21 October 2011
Political Monitor 29 – 8 – 14 October 2011
Political Monitor 28 – 1 – 7 October 2011
Political Monitor 27 – 17 – 30 September 2011
Political Monitor 26 – 3 – 16 September 2011
Political Monitor 25 – 21 August - 2 September 2011
Political Monitor 24 – 6 - 19 August 2011
Political Monitor 23 – 30 July - 5 August 2011
Political Monitor 22 – 10 – 29 July 2011
Political Monitor 21 – 25 June – 9 July 2011
Political Monitor 20 – 18 – 24 June 2011
Political Monitor 19 – 4 – 17 June 2011
Political Monitor 18 – 21 May – 3 June 2011
Political Monitor 17 – 14 - 20 May 2011
Political Monitor 16 – 30 April – 13 May 2011
Political Monitor 15 – 16 – 29 April 2011
Political Monitor 14 – 9 – 15 April 2011
Political Monitor 13 – 2 – 8 April 2011
Political Monitor 12 – 26 March – 1 April 2011
Political Monitor 11 – 19 - 25 March 2011
Political Monitor 10 – 5 - 18 March 2011
Political Monitor 9 – 26 February – 4 March 2011
Political Monitor 8 – 19 to 25 February 2011
Political Monitor 7 – 12 to 18 February 2011
Political Monitor 6 – 1 to 11 February 2011
Political Monitor 5 – 25 to 31 January 2011
Political Monitor 4 – 18 to 24 January 2011
Political Monitor 3 – 11 to 17 January 2011
Political Monitor 2 – 4 to 10 January 2011
Political Monitor 1 - 20 December 2010 to 3 January 2011
2009 & 2010
Election Monitor 53 – 13 - 19 December 2010
Election Monitor 52 – 7 - 12 December 2010
Election Monitor 51 – 1 – 6 December 2010
Election Monitor 50 – 23 - 30 November 2010
Election Monitor 49 – 10 - 22 November 2010
Election Monitor 48 – 30 October – 9 November 2010
Election Monitor 47 – 23- 29 October 2010
Election Monitor 46 – 16 - 22 October 2010
Election Monitor 45 – 8 - 15 October 2010
Election Monitor 44 – 2 – 8 October 2010
Election Monitor 43 – 25 September – 1 October 2010
Election Monitor 42 – 18 - 24 September 2010
Election Monitor 41 – 11 - 17 September 2010
Election Monitor 40 – 4 - 10 September 2010
Election Monitor 39 – 28 August – 3 September 2010
Election Monitor 38 – 21 – 27 August 2010
Election Monitor 37 – 14 – 20 August 2010
Election Monitor 36 – 7 – 13 August 2010
Election Monitor 35 – 31 July – 6 August 2010
Election Monitor 34 – 24 - 30 July 2010
Election Monitor 33 – 17 - 23 July 2010
Election Monitor 32 – 10 - 16 July 2010
Election Monitor 31 – 3 – 9 July 2010
Election Monitor 30 – 26 June – 2 July 2010
Election Monitor 29 – 19 – 25 June 2010
Election Monitor 28 – 12 – 18 June 2010
Election Monitor 27 – 5 – 11 June 2010
Election Monitor 26 – 29 May – 4 June 2010
Election Monitor 25 – 22 to 28 May 2010
Election Monitor 24 – 15 to 21 May 2010
Election Monitor 23 – 8 to 14 May 2010
Election Monitor 22 – 1 to 7 May 2010
Election Monitor 21 – 24 to 30 April 2010
Election Monitor 20 – 17 to 23 April 2010
Election Monitor 19 - 5 to 16 April 2010
Election Monitor 18 - 29 March to 4 April 2010
Election Monitor 17 - 26 March 2010
Election Monitor 16 - 12 March 2010
Election Monitor 15 - 18 to 22 January 2010
Election Monitor 14 - 11 to 15 January 2010
Election Monitor 13 - 4 to 8 January 2010
Election Monitor 12 - 21 to 31 December 2009
Election Monitor 11 - 14 to 18 December 2009
Election Monitor 10 - 7 to 11 December 2009
Election Monitor 9 - 30 to 4 December 2009
Election Monitor 8 - 23 to 27 November 2009
Election Monitor 7 - 16 to 20 November 2009
Election Monitor 6 - 9 to 13 November 2009
Election Monitor 5 - 2 to 6 November 2009
Election Monitor 4 - 26 to 30 October 2009
Election Monitor 3 - 19 to 23 October 2009
Election Monitor 2 - 12 to 16 October 2009
Election Monitor 1 - 5 to 9 October 2009
Election Monitor 17 Burmese - 26 March 2010
Election Monitor 16 Burmese - 12 March 2010
Election Monitor 15 Burmese - 18 to 22 January 2010
Election Monitor 14 Burmese - 11 to 15 January 2010
Election Monitor 13 Burmese - 4 to 8 January 2010
Election Monitor 12 Burmese - 21 to 31 December 2009
Information on the 2010 Elections
- List of Candidates
- An Ethnic Perspective on Myanmar Democratic Transition and Sanction - All Mon-region Democracy Party (AMDP) – 15 March 2011
- Open Letter of Myanmar Fraternal Democratic Parties to European Union Regarding Economic Sanctions against Myanmar (English: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 / Burmese: Page 1 & Page 2) – 11 March 2011
- NLD statement: Sanctions on Burma – 8 February 2011
- Statement by Ethnic Parties – 15 January 2011
- Myanmar People: Expectations and 2010 Elections (Part 1 & Part 2) – 4 January 2011 - Published by the Euro-Burma Office in cooperation with people in Myanmar who worked to make the 7 November 2010 elections as democratic, transparent and accountable as possible. We salute their efforts to promote democratic principles in Myanmar.
- EBO Analysis Paper No.3/2010: The 2010 Elections – To Boycott or To Contest - November 2010
Statements on the elections on 7 November:
- EU: Declaration by the High Representative Catherine Ashton on behalf of the European Union on the elections in Burma/Myanmar
- ASEAN: Statement by the Chair of ASEAN on the 7th November General Elections in Myanmar
- US: Statement by President Obama - Statement by Secretary Clinton on Burma’s Elections - Senator McConnell
- UK: Foreign Secretary: "Flawed election in Burma does not represent progress"
- France: Election In Burma Statement By Bernard Kouchner, Minister Of Foreign And European Affairs
- South Africa: South African Government statement on the elections held in Myanmar
Election law texts
6. The Pyithu Hluttaw Election Bylaws (Burmese Version)
7. The Amyotha Hluttaw Election Bylaws (Burmese Version)
8. The The Region (or) State Hluttaw Election Bylaws (Burmese Version)
9. The Political Parties Registration Bylaws (Burmese Version)
For more information
Texts on the Election laws and Registration Law in Burmese and English.
News and commentary on the Election laws and Registration Law in Burmese and English.
Information on the 7-Step Roadmap.