“If they work for constitution amendment and elections, they will be involved in party politics soon.”

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Interview with a veteran politician U Phe Than

The seven signatories in Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement have held meeting with the military council to resume peacemaking process including all-inclusive political dialogues for political crisis of Myanmar.

This interview with U Phe Than, the veteran politician, is about  his view on the attempt of seven signatories in NCA for political dialogue, possible results, and the future political scenario in Myanmar.

 TLT: What is your view on the attempt of seven-signatories of NCA which met with the military council for all-inclusive political dialogue?

U Phe Than: There were 10 signatories of NCA in the past. Now, there are only seven signatories as some EAOs are fighting against the military. Constitution amendment and elections are related to political way, not concerned with armed revolution. If any ethnic armed organization has chosen party politics while they are possessing military arms, their role and influence has seemed to decline. Their option is meant that they will continue party politics. If these EAOs agree to follow party politics, their ability has decreased. Instead, they should pressure the military with armed revolution. They should have firm determination to keep on armed revolution without violating their principle until they meet their goal. If they work for constitution amendment and electoral affairs, they will be involved in party politics soon.

The military will try in various way to create conflicts among armed groups and to deviate them from armed struggles to party politics. Actually, all the EAOs should pressure the regime in armed revolution. They should not themselves turn to a puppet of military regime.

TLT: What do you see the stance of seven signatories in NCA on present political situation?

U Phe Than: Different EAOs have their own agenda. It depends on their situations. Some of them have to deal with the military as they have no enough strength and power to exist independently in their territory, while some others are intimate with China. The latter are seven northern alliances. They unavoidably have to engage with China for their needs. So, they have different objectives and agendas.  In this situation, it is difficult to see involvement of all EAOs in armed struggle. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing discussed with each group in his game. All of them will not work together with him for their entire objectives. Meanwhile, some EAOs engaged with NUG and PDF. Armed struggle of people can be seen across the country. In this circumstance, Min Aung Hlaing cannot expect that all the impasses will end gradually if he just gives a sprinkling of favour to appease his opponents. He is focusing on his plan, and other organizations are following their own policies.

 TLT: The military chief recently said he will take decisive and punitive actions against EAOs which are supporting NUG and PDF. So, what scenario of politics would develop in Myanmar?

U Phe Than: He will not expect armed struggle of any organization. He will conduct all-out attack on the groups which support NUG and PDF. The military could not terminate any ethnic armed group in the past 70 years. So, he could not do so. These ethnic groups have considerable military power. He made ceasefire with some EAOs which he cannot defeat. While some EAOs have good relations with the military for getting supports. It is quite reasonable for him to say total elimination of these EAOs. However, some ethnic armed groups which are fighting against him will assume that he is talking nonsense. Myanmar has been under the complicated issue of federal rights for more than 70 years. There is no mutual trust between the military and ethnic people. It will take time for lasting peace. The national reconciliation plan has failed gradually. At present, peace cannot be made even among Myanmar people. How can this political impasse be ended— in armed struggle or political dialogue? Both sides will suffer more if this crisis lasts longer. It is possible for the military to opt for dialogue when they cannot control the entire country. The coup can occur inside the military. If he chooses political dialogue, he needs to take a broad-minded approach and stop atrocities. He should invite all the stakeholders honestly and prepare to develop the spirit of national brethren of the Union. If he carries out threats against his opponents and dissolute political parties with bearing a grudge, we will remain far away from peace.

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