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The leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi has initiated a new round of peace talks after a flaring up of regional conflict in the country. The talks are the newest round since those in August, last year. Negotiations organized by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), have been welcomed in the past with great optimism by the international community, including the United Nations’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The negotiations will attempt to ease the tensions and fighting that has existed between the various ethnic groups and the state for decades now.
Despite the high hopes of peaceful reconciliation after Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratic victory in 2015, there has been some skepticism over the process as it has had little results.
A major issue going into the current negotiations is that not all groups will have equal roles. Only those groups that have signed the National Ceasefire Agreement are allowed to participate. The remaining groups can only attend as special guests. This means that only eight ethnic groups have signed the ceasefire and can take part in the talks.
This lack of full inclusion means it is unlikely that any serious resolution will be reached. Sai Kyaq Nyunt, a member of the Shan National League for Democracy, has said that without full participation from all ethnic groups, “important issues should not be decided.” Nonetheless, it is still an important round and one that could be helpful for encouraging peace.
Three groups that were previously excluded from the negotiations will be present at the meeting, though one group has refused to attend because all parties were not granted ‘equal’ places at the table. Thus, while the negotiations may not have a serious effect, they can hopefully encourage a dialogue between the groups, which in turn could lead to more inclusive talks.
Despite the hope that Aung San Suu Kyi’s victory would leave much of Myanmar’s troubled history behind, it is still encompassed in issues. Calls of ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority group, mass poverty, and the worst violence in the Northeast since the 1980s, suggest that there is still much to do.
With that said, some have criticized Aung San Suu Kyi for working too closely with the military, who ruled with an oppressive regime before her. While it is difficult to achieve, a more powerful NLD government, who has complete control over the military may be more conducive to creating long lasting peace. Thus, while the latest round of peace talks are not predicted to be ground-breaking, especially in light of the lack of success of since the last one, they will still be important to watch in order to better understand the future direction of the conflicts.