Union peace conference begins in Myanmar

Updated: 2016-01-12 11:31


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NAY PYI TAW - Myanmar's union peace conference kicked off here Tuesday, ahead of the first round of national-level formal political dialogue between the government and eight ethnic armed groups.

The conference, which runs through Saturday, is the biggest gathering of political forces in the country since its independence in 1948, said President U Thein Sein.

For more than six decades, armed conflicts has been prevalent in the country, and the current government , since it took office in 2011, has made various efforts to bring the conflict to an end, which the president said has laid a good foundation for the next government to continue the peace process.

The peace process plays an important part in the country's political transition, and the peace conference is also part of the power transfer process following the general election in November 2015, he told the opening ceremony.

Attending the opening ceremony of the peace conference were also Vice President Sai Mauk Kham, Parliament Speakers U Shwe Mann and U khin Aung Myint, Chairperson of the Committee for Rule of Law and Tranquility of the House of Representatives Aung San Suu Kyi and Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Services Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing, among others.

Hundreds of representatives from stakeholder groups of the government, parliament, military and the eight ethnic armed groups that signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Accord (NCA), as well as political parties and other players, are present at the conference.

The peace conference, said to feature an inclusive participation of stakeholders, aims to end armed conflict through peace manner and build national reconciliation on the basis of the political dialogue framework approved by a tripartite Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee involving the government, ethnic armed groups and political parties.

The five main topics set for discussions at the peace conference cover political, security, economic and social issues, as well as issues related to land and natural resources.

There are dozens of ethnic armed groups in Myanmar. Prio to the peace conference, the government held talks with 15 major groups and signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Accord with eight of them.

Although sporadic fightings are reported between government forces and some ethnic armed groups, sources said that the eight armed groups attending the peace conference have expressed hope that all the ethnic armed groups could signed the ceasefire accord and participate in national political dialogue so as to contribute to lasting peace in the country.