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Thursday, October 24, 2013

President Thein Sein Needs Right Button for Peace Trade Off

Aung Nyunt Tin
History of Burma peace negotiations always falls in its realm and pointing out where it came from and where it has been. Similarly, raise and fall of leadership is more likely to be arbitrated, depending on how successfully one can manage the ethnic conflicts.    

Prime Minister U Nu was thrown out of the power in 1962 after series of negotiation with the ethnic leaders failed. Successive military general and later made up the socialist party chairman Ne Win disparaged the claim of ethnic federation was accused as an attempt to breaking up the Union. He extensively lunched all out wars against the ethnics. Continuance of the military operations after 1988 democracy uprisings had persisted in the iron hands of  junta leaderships while maintaining ceasefire agreements with Kachin Independence Organization and likewise. But the government has learned it clear that the military solution is no way it can soothe the ethnic conflicts. 
Resumption of peace negotiations enabled by President Thein Sein since 2011 has opened new opportunity for both the ethnic people and the government itself, creating times and spaces to find pathway for possible political solutions in terms of ending the lengthy civil wars. 

The government negotiators have so far reached ceasefire agreements with thirteen ethnic resistant organizations, including Karen National Union. The government is more into looking for a nationwide ceasefire agreement, stopgap face saving juncture, in the end of this year. It can be giving plausible approval to President Thein Sein the legacy of the first ever peace maker it has never had in Burmese history if it is truly materialized. 

In spate of the fact that such vision is manageable aspiration, higher risk the ethnic leaders staking with the president is he does not have democratic leverage. Without concrete supports of National Security Council, it is hard for him to implement any political agreement he unilaterally makes with the ethnic leaders because the council is, critics conclude, above the law by structure. His former boss Sr. Gen. Than Shwe and Gen. Maung Aye are still in the council. Other two powerful military commander Gen. Min Aung Haling and parliamentary leader MP Shwe Minn are in the apparatus as well. . 

These quasi military government executives are post independence military brasses who earned higher ranks fighting with the ethnic forces. They learned to resort the ethnic conflicts with traditional tribal solutions: attack when they are weak and loot what lucrative resources the ethnic people have.

President Thein Sein came from the same camp so that it is hard to tell he is a moderate leader unless he keeps his recent policy shifting as speaking in the October first week radio address. He said making peace with the ethnic is essential to political solutions.

The former he has to convince his council the tribal solution is out of option because the soldiers in the army are no longer capable for notorious mountainous and thickly pouring monsoon combating and because people on the other hand no longer support any war against the ethnic. 

The latter the president needs trustworthy adversary who is hard on problems but soft on opponents.

Lieutenant General Guam Maw is a liable leader, who can keep his words and enable to unify his fellow ethnic leaderships, ranging from the conventional forces in the south to the local militia in the northeast. His reputation of friendliness and of straightforwardness is potentiality of peremptory he can consolidate actual negotiations. 

The recent strategic combined moves of United Nationalities Federal Council and Kachin Independence Organizations are interesting. The UNFC meeting in October first week passed several resolutions. They seek assurance from the government to follow up political dialogue after the ceasefire. To couple with its resolutions and further legitimate representation, UNFC is decisively emerging with the KIO for procedural coordination in upcoming leadership summit. 

Lieutenant General Gwan Maw disclosed this proactive approach during the fifth rounds of negotiation between the government and KIO in Myitkyina on 8-10 October. He said he wanted to organize an ethnic leadership summit, and government negotiator Minister Aung Min nodded his proposal. It is a brilliant coordinated move.   

An international researcher of Burma’s peace negotiation and does not want to mention his name elaborated the leadership summit is a breakthrough solution of two dynamite trucks barreling toward each other on a single-lane road and stentorially yelling each other, “Back off the road; I get go first.” This collusion happens because government wants nationwide ceasefire first when the ethnic leaders on the other hand demand for political dialogues forefront.   

Referring to summit, one of local observers puts it as “Hi man…let’s do that I will drive your truck over to that corner, and for it you drive my truck off the road.” It is exactly what Mr. Gwam Maw is doing.  

Cleaning the dusts in the ethnic houses is clearing the mess of the government. This assumption is his own empirical because he learned it from the KIO ceasefire agreement for the last eighteen years, resulting to resume nasty wars. He knows the only way to bring political issues on the negotiation table is the ethnic leaderships have come up with a unified plan and speak for one voice. He wants the summit precisely leading to it.

All these junctures are positively concentrating on sincerity of the ethnic leaderships and their willingness to deal peace with the president if he is able to prove all military and parliamentary leaders are rallying behind him and come up with a clear step by step political solution road-map.

Make no mistake, let alone President Thein Sein push right button.  He must stress his NSC team, Falcon Maltin or what! Leave the rest up to his negotiators and trade off nationwide ceasefire agreement with subsequent political dialogue. And, let’s see trial of dual clearance really work for lasting peace and reconstruction of federal union forwarding.           

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