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A federation of eleven armed ethnic organisations called for the drafting of a new constitution that will allow for the creation of a federal government in Burma following a four-day conference in northern Thailand’s Chiang Mai.
The United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), along with representatives from more than 40 ethnic organisations, political parties and civil society groups, hashed out six ‘important positions and decisions’ ahead of a meeting with government-backed negotiators scheduled for the last week of August in Chiang Mai.
“We have to hurry. All our advisors say that you are passive. You have to be proactive,” said the UNFC’s Vice Chairperson-2 David Thackabaw during an interview with DVB.
“We have to hurry up with the talks about the political dialogue and the ceasefire dialogue. We have to hurry. We cannot go on and on without specifically pronouncing our terms and conditions for peace.”
In response to the increased pressure from their advisors, the group laid out six of the groups’ positions during a press conference on Friday, which includes the commencement of a political dialogue with Naypyidaw-backed negotiators, the establishment of a future federal government in Burma and the promulgation of new constitution.
The conference follows reports that a major rift has surfaced in Burma’s ethnic movement between the UNFC and the Working Group for Ethnic Coordination (WGEC) that was established to coordinate negotiations with the government and is funded by the Brussels-based Euro-Burma Office.
According to Thackabaw, the WGEC is pushing ethnic groups to submit to Burma’s military-backed constitution rather than calling for the establishment of a federal union that would provide the country’s ethnic minorities with greater political rights.
“But we [think] if we do that we will all become colonies. All the ethnic people would become colonies of the central military government,” said Thackabaw.
“This government is still military. We have to try and change it into a democratic government, a federal government.”
Following the group’s press conference on Friday, DVB sat down with the UNFC’s David Thackabaw to discuss the organisation’s latest summit, the government’s proposed nationwide ceasefire and the UNFC’s grievances with the WGEC.