Burma Govt Agrees to Include Federal System in Ceasefire Deal

Burma Govt Agrees to Include Federal System in Ceasefire Deal

Myanmar Peace Center Director Hla Maung Swe (left) and Nai Hong Sar, the head of the ethnic armed groups’ Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team, give a press conference in Rangoon on Friday. (Photo: JPaing . The Irrawaddy) 

Myanmar Peace Center Director Hla Maung Swe (left) and Nai Hong Sar, the head of the ethnic armed groups’ Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team, give a press conference in Rangoon on Friday. (Photo: JPaing . The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — The Burmese government has agreed to include in a nationwide ceasefire agreement a pledge for the country to be governed in a federal system, participants in a meeting between government negotiators and rebel leaders said Friday.

The Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), which represents most of the country’s rebel groups, met with the government’s Union Peace-making Work Committee at the Myanmar Peace Center (MPC) in Rangoon on Friday.

One of the ethnic armed groups’ key demands is for the country to adopt a federal system with more local autonomy in ethnic regions, and Burma Army representatives have previously expressed a willingness to include federalism in the nationwide ceasefire deal currently being negotiated.

But NCCT head Nai Hong Sar told a press conference that Friday’s meeting was the first time the government side had firmly agreed to the demand.

“This meeting was good and there was a lot of improvement. The most important thing is that the government agreed to have a federal system, which means democracy, equal rights and self determination in the country. They agreed with what our ethnic leaders proposed,” said Nai Hong Sar.

“The good message for the people is that we passed the main point already, and this is the really important point. The remaining points will be easy to discuss.”

A single draft of the nationwide ceasefire agreement was completed months ago, but the wording of a number of key points remained disputed.

Talks on Friday and Saturday are being held to work through the draft ahead of a formal meeting including political parties and MPC members on Monday, at which plans for political dialogue to follow the ceasefire agreement will be discussed.

Nai Hong Sar said the issue of creating a federal army for Burma, another demand of the ethnic armed groups, would be part of the later political dialogue.

Hla Maung Shwe, a director of the government-linked MPC, confirmed that the government’s negotiators had agreed to include wording about federalism in the agreement.

“I found there was a lot compromise, understanding and consideration from each side at the meeting. We reached agreement to have a federal system, which is important,” he said.

Ethnic groups have long demanded for Burma to be governed under a federal system, but the military government that ruled the country until 2011 argued that granting too much autonomy to the border regions would lead to succession and the break-up of the nation.

The nominally civilian government that took its place in 2011 has signed ceasefire agreements with most of the ethnic groups and initiated national talks. Although conflict is still taking place in the northern part of the country—most significantly between the Burma Army and ethnic Kachin fighters—the government wants to wrap up the nationwide ceasefire agreement in September and conduct political dialogue ahead of elections late next year.


8 Responses to Burma Govt Agrees to Include Federal System in Ceasefire Deal

  1. What about the UWSA and the PLA?

  2. If the regime fails to accept this, what kind of democracy it may push forward then? Federalism is the only option the Union of Myanmar can offer the best to its citizens.

  3. “The good message for the people is that we passed the main point already, and this is the really important point. The remaining points will be easy to discuss. ” U Nai Hong Sar. “I found there was a lot compromise, understanding and consideration from each side at the meeting. We reached agreement to have a federal system, which is important,” U Hla Maung Shwe. The question most ordinary people in Burma and members of the “daispora”, especially to me , as a former citizen of Burma, is (1) — Will real peace prevail in Myanmar, before the date of The National Election is announced?. (2) Whether the “the discussion and dailogue process for Peace and Reconciliation has been carried out since 2011, between the Government and the “Rebels” carried out within the framework and articles of “The 2008 Myanmar Constitution” .

  4. Prove that I am wrong by your Federal Promise

    A Friday meeting between the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), and the government’s Union Peace-making Work Committee at the Myanmar Peace Center (MPC) in Rangoon.

    According to NCCT spokesperson, Nai Hong Sar, the government agreed to have a federal system which means democracy, equal rights and self-determination for the non-Burmese nationalities.

    It is a good message for the non-Burmese people who want to decide their own fates in their own hands that has no interference from the Burmar ethnic for the internal affairs. Yes, it is a welcome message.

    However, there is still a sceptical question of when will the Burmese government deed to their words and start to implement it? Since both sides signed the ceasefire agreement in December 2011, the sounds of gun fighting are still hearing in northern Shan and Kachin states.

    Federalism is not a new word for non-Burmese politicians and activists who are striving for equal rights since the 1947 Panglong agreement. Gen. Aung San, the father of Aung San Su Kyi has a better concept of Federalism and he used it well in order to win the signatures of Shan, Kachin and Chin leaders for the foundation of the today-Burma.

    Historically, federalism concept has been up in the air for more than 60 years. Ironically and contrast to the sweet dream of federalism, the non-Burmese states have been dominated by the brutal, thuggish Burmese soldiers. During its presence in the ethnic states, human rights abuses are uncountable and not trace able. Some villages were burned down, civilians; women and children were arrested, tortured, killed and died in prisons. It is a bitter fact of the history.

    Since the new Burmese government comes in with a promise of CHANGE, it started to talk to its opposition groups, the ethnic armed groups and Aung San Su Kyi alike. All were invited on the dialogue table. Many promises were given and very few of them were granted.

    For instance, the Burmese government agreed to let the SSA-S to have their new resettlement in Mong Hta and Mong Kyot eastern Shan State, it has never taken place. At the same time, they are pushing the SSA-N to withdraw from their original bases from time to times and as the result, the fighting occurs.

    Yes, the Burmese government did two things, the ethnic politicians can go for meetings and trainings and setting up liaison offices. Again, the entire budget for these activities are funded by the Myanmar Peace Support Initiative (MPSI). The MPSI is to support the ceasefires in Myanmar through humanitarian and development assistance. All the trips to Kachin, Karen, Yangon, trainings, meetings, development projects are funded by MPSI not the government and not by any other groups.

    The government is smart to not to slip that golden opportunity away. It is proven by the facts that Burmese government never sincere from the beginning of CHANGE. Why, these ministers and government have been robbing the natural resources for years and having luxuries in big cities and abroad. They have money to hold such a minor meeting but they never spend a penny.

    Then why does the government start to make change? The Burmese regime started to realize it must change due to the international sanction, pressure, and fear of another uprising in Burma due to the economy crisis in the country.

    Now, the Burmese government acts like Mr. Nice guy by declaring to accept the federal system. Accepting the federal system, the Burmese regime has nothing to lose but it is win-win strategy. They won two things, the trust of armed ethnic groups and international community praise. Surprisingly, it is the meeting after the visit of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry said, the US would keep an eye open on the Burmese situation.

    The government is always smart how to play. This time, the regime uses federal political tool to beat the hearts of the ethnic leaders and make them smile from the gloomy discussion room. However, the regime never said when and how?

    Repeatedly, the government loves to give sweet dreams and many of the non-Burmese politicians seem to be fallen in that dream.

    The real sad fact is the Burmese government has no say on the military affairs and has no authorities on the Burmese Army. Even today, they have signed the ceasefire for more than 2 years ago, the fighting and human rights abuses are still taking place in Shan and Kachin states

    • Ler Tai wrote “The real sad fact is the Burmese government has no say on the military affairs and has no authorities on the Burmese Army. Even today, they have signed the ceasefire for more than 2 years ago, the fighting and human rights abuses are still taking place in Shan and Kachin states”

      My opinion;

      In order to prevent this above happening, the commander in chief of army should be appointed in rotation among all ethnics during forming federalism.

      • Absolutely. Idiot generals have no vision for the Union. What they are talking is the same thing Ne Win talked about. Just selfish and personal gain through this same tactic. Let the leadership role rotate every term.

  5. The wording on ‘federalism’ is a complex political institution in many countries. Australia, Canada, India, Germany, USA have been exercising this model for many years and now Burma seeks to establish a ‘federalism’ model of political institution. It is a complex issues on power-sharing and power-balance between the National Parliament and the State / Territory Parliament. Let’s find a workable model!

    After I live and work for over 16 years in Australia, I am aware the process and structure of ‘federalism’ in Australia as an ordinary citizen. It is a complex – power sharing on Finance, Taxation, Revenue and National Laws etc. It may takes 10-20 years for a better understanding of the concept for Burma’s people. However, It is time to start having conversation, discussion and sharing knowledge on this key subject.

    There are some key points for our leaders and MPs to have a kitchen table – conversation this week.

    (1) Review the current role and power of the State (Ethnic State) Parliament on its legislative power, administrative and judicial implication
    (2) Review the current Constitution of Myanmar (2008) whether the document contains its core principle on ‘federalism’
    (3) If, State and Territory Parliament and its local government/ State Government are not granted to exercise its own function without interfering of the National Parliament (Union Assembly) from Nay Pyi Taw and Government of Union of Myanmar (Union Government), the process of ‘federalism’ will be confused to many people.
    (4) In fact, State Government (each Ethnic State) government must acquire / exercise full power on managing local health, education, municipal, housing, transportation, land, and other revenue through State Taxation system.
    (5)Above, UNFC and MPC official must appoint Technical Team or ‘Federal and State Formation Council’ under the signature of President U Thein Sein to move forward.
    (6) It may takes 2-3 years for further studies, agreement and establishing power-sharing agreement between State and Union Government
    (7) Ethnic and Burmese Leaders (including Tadmataw’s Leaders) could appoint / form a Joint-Standing Committee on “Burma Federal Council’ as interim process in the next 1-2 years for further agreement on the core document that could lead to the New Constitution.
    (8) Unless the New Constitution has changed the context and the content, the word of ‘federalism’ could be used for political gain but no fruitful outcome for the nation.

    This is my private citizen views. There good sources of books on this subject but we have to be informed what form of power-sharing that Burma’s could exercise for this new federal model.

  6. U Hla Mauntg Swe is Arakanes ethnic, he does not know politics, simple man. There is some thing inside of Federal State creation. You all will know later, not now. May be coup will lead as it is legalize in the constitution.

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