By: Sai Wansai>>
Fresh after the second meeting with minister Aung Kyi, the Pegu or Bago day trip visit of Aung San Suu Kyi have been a success, both in terms of large public turnout and the eager cooperation of the police, which indicates an about turn from harsh, confrontational stance of the Than Shwe, SPDC regime.
Indeed, the warming up of the situation even lead to 4 point statement between Aung San Suu Kyi and minister Aung Kyi, which states:
Will cooperate with government for stability and development
Will cooperate for the flourishing of democracy and economic / social development
Will avoid conflicting views and focus on mutual cooperation
Will continue the meetings (Source: Mizzima)
So far so good. But both Aung Kyi and Information Minister Kyaw Hsan, also leader of the new unit, called the Spokespersons and Information Team, insist that it is illegal for NLD to function as a political party, due to its dissolution for failing to register during the run up of the last election, and urge to register so that it could politically be involved.
From the view point of the NLD, while the outsiders could imagine or understand the regime's offer of urging NLD to register as a party as being reconciliatory, the NLD is in an awkward position to follow suit, for this would mean the acceptance of the government’s legitimacy in exchange for permission to take part in politics. This, in turn, would weaken the political position of the NLD party, which overwhelmingly have won the 1990 nation-wide election and is entitled to form the government, on behalf of the people.
The NLD leader, Aung San Suu Kyi has made it known, time and again, that she didn't endorse the 2008 Constitution. On 8 August 2011 - Aung San Suu Kyi, marking the 23rd anniversary of the 8888 uprising, says, “We still do not accept the 2008 constitution.” (Source:DPA)
For now, the military-backed government seems to put the NLD registration issue on a back burner and prioritising “national unity”. Signs that the government is reaching out to Aung San Suu Kyi could be seen by the invitation to meet with officials of the government-backed political party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP); and to the National Level Workshop on Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation in Naypyidaw this month
While reconciliatory gestures are abundant for Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD, just the opposite is true with the SSPP/SSA and KIO/KIA.
The ceasefire armies, including the KIO/KIA and SSPP/SSA, don't agree with the 2008 Constitution, even though the regime used to point it out that the ceasefire armies also participated in the drafting of the constitution, during the national convention. The point is that the ceasefire armies and ethnic political parties' suggestion of forming a federal union to satisfy their rights of self-determination was bluntly rejected by the then SPDC's dominated national convention. And as such, the ceasefire armies were of the opinion that they owe no legal obligation to the 2008 Constitution and also to the government, especially where the Border Guard Force (BGF) program is concerned.
According to the 2008 constitution of chapter Vll, under the heading “Defence Services”, Paragraph number 338, it states: “All the armed forces in the Union shall be under the command of the Defence Services”.
Since Naypyitaw launched offensive against the SSPP/SSA on 13 March, more than 31,700 people have been displaced and 24 had died in July alone, according to Shan Women’s Action Network and Shan Human Rights Foundation. (Source:AP)
Amid deliberation of ceasefire talks by the military-backed government, the armed conflict is still going on in Kachin State. Also there were reports that the regime has sent out feelers to SSPP/SSA and New Mon State Party (NMSP) for ceasefire talks.
So far as the non-Burman ethnic nationalities are concerned, the military-backed government is sending out mixed signals, without much political will or sincerity to resolve the core of the problem: rights of self-determination.
It also looks like that the regime is deliberately trying to side-line the non-Burman ethnic nationalities as a third force, in Burma political arena.
To sum up, the issue of urging NLD registration as a political party and the forced assimilation of the armed ethnic groups within the mould of BGF by the military-backed regime are due to the non-recognition of the 2008 Constitution.
While it might seem that the Thein Sein government is becoming reasonable, the fact remains that all have to honour the 2008 Constitution and any give-and-take will only happen within this mould. And it is here where the most crucial problem is embedded.
The military-back regime could not dictate its self-drawn game plan on all its adversaries and postures itself immaturely by sticking to its "Heads I Win, Tails You Lose" rhetoric.
Instead, a more pragmatic and logical approach would be to call for a 'Tripartite Dialogue', between the NLD, non-Burman ethnic nationalities and itself, to resolve all the problems encompassing ethnic conflict and democratization process.
The author is General Secretary of the exiled Shan Democratic Union.