Khonumthung News recently interviewed Salai Htet Ni, spokesperson for the Chin National Front (CNF), about the state of Burma’s current peace process, the situation on the ground in war-torn Paletwa Township, and the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) signatory’s expectations for the country’s next government following the general election in November.
The CNF has implemented the peace process with both the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and the National League for Democracy (NLD) governments. What are the differences in the way these administrations worked? And how do you feel about the current situation regarding the peace process?
For peace process implementation, it was better for us to work with the USDP government. I think the reason is perhaps because the USDP government started the peace process. It is possible that the USDP government had a good understanding about the process and procedures. In my opinion, the peace process slowed down under the NLD government. In general, we have not been satisfied with the peace process under the NLD government. We saw positive results in the first and second sessions of the 21st Century Panglong Conference. Even though the peace process is moving forward a little bit, there has not been much development in the third session of the Panglong Conference. Therefore, we have prepared a future plan to work with the new government on the peace process after the 2020 general election.
What would you like to see the new government implement regarding the peace process?
I want to make three points. First, we agreed on a future plan and the issues, which were included in the Union Accord Part III, Chapter 2. We agreed to implement those things post-2020, including building a foundation of democracy and federalism and building a Union. We have agreed on how to implement these things. Therefore, political dialogue must take place for implementation.
Second, according to the NCA, the government and NCA signatory EAOs [ethnic armed organizations]agreed to implement interim arrangements. We need to continue to implement the interim arrangements.
Third, we need to persuade non-NCA ethnic armed organizations to participate in the peace process to restore long-lasting peace in our country. We want the new government to pay attention to these issues and implement these things after the 2020 general election.
The Union Election Commission (UEC) will allow the election to take place in war-torn Paletwa Township in Chin State. The Burma Army and the Arakan Army have had multiple clashes in Paletwa Township. Is it suitable to hold the election in Paletwa? What does the CNF think about this?
The UEC announced the cancellation of the election in some constituencies in the country for the 2020 general election, but Paletwa Township was not included in the canceled area. It’s really difficult to say… In my opinion, the election should take place for people. Our people only have this political basic right, to participate in the election. The CNF has demanded both sides stop clashes in the Paletwa region. We call for an end to all hostilities in the Paletwa region. They must take full responsibility for all of the negative impacts.
What, mainly, do you want to urge the next government to work for in Chin State?
The CNF and the Chin State government have an agreement related to the peace process. We need to continue to implement this agreement. We want the new government to continue to implement incomplete development projects which were started by the previous government. The new government also needs to resolve the land problems between the old government and the people, and the issue of demarcation [between Chin State and other regions]. Another thing is that the new government needs to effectively implement a relief and resettlement programs for IDPs [internally displaced persons].