‘We’re about 80% there,’ CRPH’s foreign minister says on federal union talks

A cabinet minister in the Committee Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) says that talks aimed at establishing a federal union in Myanmar are coming along well.

“We’re about 80% there,” said Zin Mar Aung, a National League for Democracy (NLD) MP appointed to serve as the committee’s foreign minister.

The CRPH, which consists mainly of MPs elected in last year’s election, has been negotiating with ethnic armed groups, political parties, and protest committees since it was formed after the military seized power on February 1.

“We’re discussing how we can work collectively in a situation like this. We are trying to have one united voice,” said Zin Mar Aung.

Among those involved in the talks are the Karen National Union, the Restoration Council for Shan State, and the Kachin Independence Army, as well as other groups that have signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, she said.    

The CRPH is in talks with the various armed groups both individually and collectively to reach an agreement on the terms of creating a federal union, according to Zin Mar Aung.

“There are still some suspicions left from the past. We are working together to erase them and build trust. We have slowly begun to establish some common ground now,” she said. 

The results of the discussions with the ethnic armed groups and other stakeholders will serve as a good foundation for a future federal union, she added. 

Previous efforts to come to terms, including the 21st Century Panglong Conference launched five years ago, failed due to the objections of the military, she said. 

This means that one of the key issues that need to be resolved is how to establish a new federal army that would be compatible with the aspirations of the country as a whole.

“To work towards a federal union means we have to work towards establishing a federal army, which must be guided by ethical standards,” said Zin Mar Aung.

“A real professional army will never act like thugs,” she added, noting that under the current regime, the army has acted more as an oppressor than as a protector of the people. 

“Those who have vowed to protect the country and its people are no longer honouring those vows, so people are oppressed and feel extremely unsafe. They cannot eat or sleep in peace,” said Zin Mar Aung.

She added that she believed that many in the army still want to do their duty and stand with the country’s people instead of with the junta that stole power from them.

“I believe there are soldiers who want to protect civilians. Please prove yourselves. Stand in solidarity with the people instead of being pawns of a person or an institution or a group of people,” she said.

“If you vow to protect the livelihoods of the people, they will welcome you gladly and wholeheartedly,” she added.


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