Myanmar’s ethnic peace groups urged to adhere to new constitution

People’s Daily, China

Myanmar’s official media on Tuesday urged ethnic peace groups in the country to adhere to the approved new state constitution in light of the upcoming general election next year.

“The national race armed groups will have to reconsider formation of their political parties if they wish to work for their regional development within the framework of the constitution,” the New Light of Myanmar said in an article in the pen name of Ye Kyaw.

“To do so, those groups that existed as armed organizations for many years will have to seek ways to transform themselves into political parties,” the article said.

“Some anti-government groups have worked to keep their own forces as national race armed organizations that have made peace with the state,” the article complained, warning this would cause disintegration of the union.

“Before the elections to be held in 2010, the national race armed groups that have made peace with the state are to act in accord with the constitution regarding their armed forces if they want to stand for elections,” the article said.

The article disclosed that the government had made arrangements for the ethnic armed groups wishing to form political parties to retire for the engagement and to reconstitute their existing armed groups as frontier forces.

Criticizing calls by some anti-government groups for more time to undergo transformation, the article said peace agreements had been in place for a couple of decades, allowing plenty of time.

According to the government’s seven-step roadmap announced in 2003, a multi-party democracy general election is to be held next year in accordance with the 2008 new state constitution to produce parliament representatives and form a new civilian government.

Since the present government came to power in late 1988, 17 major anti-government ethnic armed groups and more than 20 small groups had returned to the legal fold by signing respective ceasefire agreements with the government.

Some of the armed groups were resettled in special regions with arms retained, conditionally enjoying self-administration.

There also remain 10 legal political parties in Myanmar.

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