Parties without parliament seats barred from peace conference

Zarli Myint Oo, Wera Moe Nay

The Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) will create a list of the political parties who did not win any seats in the 2015 election and submit them to the Union Peace Conference.

Election losers were allowed to attend the peace conference in January 2015 under the Thein Sein administration. However, they were excluded from the second round of the peace conference in September, which was held by the National League for Democracy.

“It’s up to the government whether to invite all some 90 political parties. Former President U Thein Sein allowed every party to attend the conference even if they did not win any seats. But the government now invites only the parties that won a seat in Parliament. We keep telling the government [to think about parties without MPs], but the authorities won’t budge. So we’re collecting the ideas from all the parties for the peace conference,” said Manam Tuja, chairman of Kachin State Democracy Party and member of the UPDJC.

A total of 150 representatives from official parties can attend the conference, according to the nationwide ceasefire agreement’s political dialogue framework.

UPDJC members in February discussed results from national-level talks that were about politics, economy, social affairs, land, natural resources and security matters that would be considered at the peace conference.

The security agenda has two topics: state defence and consolidation of armed forces. The UPDJC has formed five working committees – each with 15 members – for five subjects: politics, social affairs, economy, security and land and environment. 

Working committees will discuss the matters raised by national-level forums, produce no more than three policy recommendations on each subject and submit them to UPDJC secretaries. However, discussions have not yet started on the topic of faiths and religious affairs, according to Shwe Min, chairman of the working committee for social affairs.