Aung San Suu Kyi: Burma Must ‘Build a Union Where Secession is Not Necessary’

‘The reality is that there is a model federal dream on one side and the current 2008 Constitution on the other side,’ the State Counsellor says.


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

If the Union meets people’s needs, it will resolve concerns about secession, chairperson of the government’s National Reconciliation and Peace Council State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said this week.

In a Naypyidaw summit between ethnic armed groups signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), the government, and military leaders, discussions were held over the current political deadlock over the right to secede. The meeting, which began on Monday, concluded yesterday.

“We could not put in the points about self-determination and drafting state constitutions into the agreement results [of the Union Accord] from the second round of 21st Century Panglong Conference,” the State Counsellor said. “We have to cooperate and work together to build a Union where secession is not necessary,” she explained in her opening speech at the summit.

The Karen National Union’s Gen Saw Mutu Say Poe—who is also chairperson of the Peace Process Steering Team—said in his own opening speech that the issues of self-determination and non-secession were important for a future federal Union in Burma, and that they must be addressed by all stakeholders.

“Ethnic armed forces, the government and the Tatmadaw have many different opinions on the deadlocked issues of self-determination and non-secession. We have to practically solve these issues,” he said.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said that participants in the peace process must be realistic in separating idealism from pragmatism, and that the root causes of conflicts must be identified and understood through dialogue and negotiation. The State Counsellor emphasized the need to move beyond the past, and bitterness resulting from this, and focus on the future.

“The reality is that there is a model federal dream on one side and the current 2008 Constitution on the other side…We have to solve problems step by step,” she said.

The KNU’s Gen Saw Mutu Say Poe said that common federal principles must be agreed upon, and based on issues of ethnic equality, minority rights, the right to draft a state constitution, and the separation of powers.

Burma has been engaged in civil war for 70 years. The controversial NCA has been signed by 10 of the country’s more than 20 armed organizations, the first of which signed on October 15, 2015.