Monday, March 30, 2009

Immediate talks unlikely between NMSP and junta

by Salai Pi Pi

New Delhi (Mizzima) – A Burmese ethnic Mon ceasefire group, New Mon State Party (NMSP), has denied a rumor of possible further talks in the near future between the organization and Burma’s military junta.

Speaking to Mizzima, Nai Ohn Mange, spokesperson for the NMSP, on Monday said the organization has no exact schedule for continuing talks with Burma’s generals following a secret meeting with junta officials in southeast Burma during the first week of March.

“At present, it is impossible that we are going to have further talks with them [Burmese regime],” Mange said.

The rejection by Mon officials of additional talks came after the exile-based Independent Mon News Agency (IMNA) on Friday carried a report that said the NMSP had decided to meet with Burmese generals on matters related to the upcoming 2010 election.

IMNA also said Lieutenant General Ye Myint pressed delegates of the NMSP to contest the forthcoming polls.

Mange said, regarding the upcoming 2010 election, the NMSP will continue to adhere to the electoral resolution passed at its party congress held on January. The resolution states the party will not consider contesting the election unless the regime allows a review of the newly adopted constitution.

“We will keep on holding to the resolution of the Party Congress,” Mange reaffirmed.

In the first week of March, some central executive committee members of the NMSP, led by party Chairman Nai Rotsa, quietly met with Lieutenant General Ye Myint at Southeast Command headquarters in Mawlamyaing, capital of Mon state.

“They [Burmese generals] asked about the results of the party’s conference. And what sort of help we need from them,” Mange said.

Moreover, he said the junta assured delegates of the Mon ceasefire group in a secret meeting that there would not be pressure for the NMSP to disarm.

“They said we should not be worried concerning disarmament,” maintained Mange. “It seems they were trying to console us.”

However, he added that the regime did not reveal how it expects to treat the NMSP in the future.

The NMSP was formed in July 1958 to fight for self-determination and reached a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese regime in 1995.

After originally attending the National Convention as a ceasefire group, which began in 1993 and only concluded in 2007, the NMSP later in 2005 only participated in proceedings as an observer after arguing that ethnic rights were being ignored during the convention’s proceedings.

Despite opposing the election slated for 2010, the NMSP pledged to maintain the ceasefire agreement with Burmese regime.

“We will keep on maintaining our ceasefire agreement. But, regarding talks, we will never start to offer [further talks],” said Mange.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said last week that he was asked by the Burmese junta in his last trip to the neighboring country to assist in persuading the Karen National Union, another ethnic army fighting for self-determination, to join the 2010 electoral process.

However, the KNU has since told Mizzima that while the organization is open to peace talks, they will remain firm in their demand for a revision of the junta’s constitution before agreeing to join in next year’s national polling.

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