Speaking in the run-up to the Shan conference to be held on 26-28 November, leader of the Restoration Council of Shan State / Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) Lt-Gen Yawdserk said the way to lasting peace in Burm is a federal democratic system.
“The country needs to adopt a federal system, genuine democracy and the right of the people to have a say in the amendment of the constitution,” he told SHAN on Monday. “Amendment should not be the exclusive prerogative of the 75 plus percent.”
According to the military drafted and approved constitution’s Article 436, most of the provisions can be amended by a vote of more than 75% of the representatives of the joint Upper and Lower House assembly (666 seats). The military occupies 25% of the seats in each house (110, 56).
He reiterated that any peace dialogue must begin with Panglong, the 1947 treaty between pre-independence Burma and Shan-Chin-Kachin areas, collectively known then as Frontier Areas. The main terms of the agreement were:
- Frontier Areas representatives will be responsible for Frontier Areas affairs
- Full autonomy
- Rights and privileges fundamental in democratic countries
- Financial autonomy
“We are of the same mind as the Kachins. Any dialogue for peace must begin with Panglong”, he said. “Because all the problems we are facing now started with someone reneging on it. We must take a look at it first, and if we find there is need to improve on it, we do it.”
However, Yawdserk, 53, regretted he would not be able to attend it. “One reason is I’m still recovering slowly from my illness,” he said. “Another is we already have our representatives (led by Col Sai La) in Rangoon to participate in it.”
He, together with several officers, have been suffering from bronchitis. Some of them are still being hospitalized.
He is careful that he does not offend the organizers and the other participants of the event. “It is a very important occasion, a key to peace and may well be the gateway to peace in our country,” he said. “We cannot just leave it to the government to handle the matter. Only if all the people take part in it, peace will be realized.”
The event is expected to be participated also by the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP) and Shan State Progress Party / Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA), among others. On the government side, Vice President Sai Mawk Kham and ministers from the President’s Office, U Aung Min and U Soe Thein are expected to grace the event with their presence.