Joining a rising chorus of voices objecting to the encroachment of Burma Army troops into territory in Karen State, hundreds of villagers in the state’s Hpapun Township staged a protest on Monday, calling on the military to withdraw its forces.
Plans to hold the next iteration of the government’s self-styled “21st Century Panglong Conference” have been pushed back. Instead of convening late this month, the third round of the high-level summit will not take place until February.
Insofar as the Union government’s agenda for ethnic reconciliation is concerned, there is little doubt that the north, where the most powerful rebel armies operate, holds the key to a permanent negotiated settlement.
The Arakan Army, Ta’ang Nationalities Liberation and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army have welcomed the Burmese government’s announcement that they are invited to the upcoming peace conference.
“There will be 75 representatives from the government; 75 from parliament; 150 representatives each from the Tatmadaw [Burmese military], ethnic armed groups and political parties; 50 ethnic representatives; and 50 other invitees.”
The eight principles are: sovereignty; equality; self-determination; establishment of a genuine federal union; protection of ethnic rights, democratic rights and basic human rights; gender equality; a multi-party democratic system; and secularism.