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Burma’s seven ethnic states and seven administrative divisions will have the right to draft their own constitutions in the future on the condition that they do not seek separation from the rest of the country, according to the government-led Union Peace and Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC).
Speaking after a meeting with ethnic representatives in Naypyidaw on Friday, Zaw Htay, the director-general of the State Counsellor’s Office, said the UPDJC had reached an agreement in principle to bestow administrative regions and states a federal right to adopt their own constitutions, but only on the basis that they did not seek to break away from Burma.
“Due to our [Burma’s] geopolitical status, it is strategically imperative that we do not break into pieces,” said Zaw Htay. “We reached a consensus with ethnic delegations that they will be granted the right to draft their own constitutions, provided unity is maintained.”
The UPDJC also announced plans to invite armed groups that have not signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement to the next round of the Union Peace Conference, dubbed the 21st Century Panglong Conference (21CPC) by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, who is hosting the event in the Burmese capital on 24–28 May.
Burmese state media did not carry any news about the principle to allow ethnic peoples to draft independent constitutions. The Global New Light of Myanmar on Saturday quoted Suu Kyi saying that the UPDJC meeting with ethnic representatives was held “mainly to discuss the details and framework” of next week’s 21CPC conference.
Burmas seven ethnic states are: Arakan, Chin, Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Mon and Shan. The administrative divisions (or regions) are: Irrawaddy, Magwe, Mandalay, Pegu, Rangoon, Sagaing and Tenasserim. The capital, Naypyidaw, is classified as a Union Territory; whether it is included in the UPDJC’s statement is currently unclear.