After a slight delay, and a spat of political jousting between a Chin party and the government, the Chin State national-level political dialogue is set to kick off in Htantlang township, with a tentative start date next week.
“The Tatmadaw commander-in-chief and the state counsellor have approved the national-level dialogue in Chin State. The information reached me yesterday,” said Salai Lian Hmung, vice chair number 2 of the Chin National Front (CNF), the political wing of the Chin National Army. “We are considering meeting from February 22-25, though these dates are not yet confirmed. We need to hold a discussion before finalizing the dates. But if the [next] 21st-Century Panglong Conference is going to start in the first week March, we should be prepared.”
According to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, all signatory groups are eligible to stage national-level dialogues, which can be held topically, ethnically or regionally. However, earlier this month, the government announced plans to postpone national-level political dialogues in Chin and Rakhine states due to concerns over political stability and geography. Both states are among the poorest and least developed in Myanmar.
Neither the Chin, nor the Rakhine signatory groups took well to the announcement. After the postponement was declared, the CNF responded that it would not be taking part in the government’s scheduled second Panglong meeting for Union-level talks if the government continued to bar the Chin public from holding a discussion. The national-level dialogues are aimed at engaging the public and local civil society groups in order to gather recommendations to be presented at the Union-level meetings.
The Chin National Political Supportive Committee – a group comprised of Chin political parties and civil society organizations – also demanded the government green light the Chin State dialogue.
“We had arranged everything necessary and provided continual updates about the planning situation. The hindrance was because the authorities’ side did not prepare enough. The delay was questioned because we had done everything to get ready for the meeting,” Salai Lian Hmung told Khonumthung News. “Anyhow, everything is alright now. We obtained permission from the government, we’ve prepared, and we believe the national-level political dialogue will be successful.”
Translated by Zin Linn
Edited by by Laignee Barron for BNI