Burmese government is not pursuing national reconciliation, but national reconsolidation

Two days of talks this week between Burma's armed ethnic groups and the government aimed at a national cease-fire that would lead to an all-inclusive political dialogue are not expected to result in any immediate breakthrough. The leader of the representatives of the 17 armed ethnic groups (Naing Han Tha) told Radio Free Asia it was "impossible" for a peace agreement this month due to the number of proposals on the negotiating table.

The U.N. Secretary-General's special envoy to Burma, Vijay Nambiar, Monday said the talks in the northern Kachin city of Myitkyina (myit-chee-NAH), are significant and hopeful.

[[DALET - NAMBIAR ACT :18 (SAME KIND OF OPTIMISM)]]

Ethnic minority groups are supporting the creation of a federal system allowing for shared power with the central government that could impact the future role of the military. Burma analyst Nicholas Farrelly of the Australian National University told VOA's Victor Beattie the ethnic groups see federalism as being in their best interests:

[[DALET - FARRELLY/BEATTIE Q&A 3:24 (A PEACEFUL AND UNITED FASHION)]] 

Farrelly says both the nominally civilian government of President Thein Sein and democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi would stand to gain politically from agreement to a national cease-fire in the anticipated 2015 national elections. He says what will be intriguing is the reaction among the ethnic minorities who could stand to influence races in dozens of seats in parliament.

Burmese exile activist Maung Zarni of the London School of Economics and the Center for Democracy and Elections at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur says, while the talks are important, the two sides hold what he calls radically different views on the meaning of reconciliation:

[[DALET - ZARNI/BEATTIE Q&A 3:07 (LOW-INTENSITY WARS IN THE COUNTRY)]]

Zarni says the Burmese government is not pursuing national reconciliation, but national reconsolidation, consolidating what it considers its power over Burma's peripheral regions. And, he calls on the international community to demand the government clarify its vision of national reconciliation. 

After five decades of harsh military rule, Burma's nominally civilian government embarked on a two-year reform program in 2011. Under President Thein Sein, Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy was allowed to contest seats in parliament, political prisoners have been released and media censorship relaxed. The reforms have won praise from Western governments resulting in an easing of economic sanctions.



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