Khonumthung News spoke with Salai Htet Ni, spokesperson for Chin National Front (CNF), about his thoughts on the National League for Democracy (NLD) landslide victory during the recent national election in Burma and what implications it may hold for the peace process. The incumbent party secured 396 seats in Parliament, requiring only 333 to win the election.
What are your thoughts about CNF’s election results for the 2020 general election? Can you provide your analysis for Chin State?
Actually, I’d rather not analyze the entire race in Chin State. A total of 11 political parties contested the election in the state. The Chin National League for Democracy (CNLD) and NLD won the majority of seats. The latter secured a landslide victory in Chin State. There may be many reasons for the NLD’s success. As the ruling party, it has an advantage because it has more finances and people. Further, the NLD was organized and well prepared for the election. Many impoverished Chins might have been hoping for more assistance from the ruling party and wanted the NLD in office longer than March of next year.
Many analysts predicted the CNLD would win half the seats in Chin State. Why do you think this didn’t happen?
The CNLD was a major contender during the election in Chin State. But its weakness is that it’s a merger of three Chin political parties. It’s less than a year old and therefore not yet structurally strong. CNLD was not organized or prepared for the election. And its candidates should be based in Chin State, where they’re close to their voting bloc. Furthermore, many people respect the political party of central Burma. They don’t trust an ethnic Chin party.
Regarding the peace process, what do you expect from the NLD during its second term in office?
The NLD government regards the peace process as a conflict between the Burma Army and ethnic armed organizations (EAOs). If the government doesn’t become actively involved in the peace process, we can’t expect much. During the fourth session of the Union Peace Conference – 21st Panglong Conference, a working and implementation plan for 2021 was established by the EAOs, Burma Army and the government. How things work out depends on whether the NLD can follow through with these plans.
During a previous interview, you said the peace process was moving slowly under the NLD government. Do you foresee this changing in its second term?
Everyone knows that Burma’s peace process was moving slowly under the NLD government. It’s because it wasn’t paying attention to the peace process and NCA (nationwide ceasefire agreement). The NLD sees it as a problem between the Burma Army and EAOs. But now that it has been in office for five years, it has more experience. During the coming year, we’ve higher expectations for the peace process under the ‘working and implementation plan’.
Regarding peace in Burma, do you have any suggestions for the NLD government?
The NCA provides a path to restoring peace in the country. The government knows what the ethnic people want because for more than 70 years we have been demanding political equality. For the peace process to move forward, it really depends on the government. We want it to assume a proactive role in peace and introduce reforms or at least for the ‘peace working group’.