"Opposition parties participating in the process view boycotting the elections as a strategic mistake. The only way forward for them is to play a better game of chess, making the best strategic use of the limited space available."
This monograph argues that although the United Wa State Party (UWSP) has been branded by the international community as a "narco-trafficking army;' the organization has an ethnic nationalist agenda whose aim is to build a Wa state within Burma.
Myanmar is heading to the polls in November 2015, with an expected shift in power from the old elite to the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD). However it remains unclear whether the new political space created by the transition away from military rule will bring significant legislative power to ethnic nationality-based parties.
Burma is in the midst of its most important period of political transition in over two decades. TNI and BCN hosted a conference to look at the challenges and opportunities in five key areas: politics, ethnic relations, the economy, social and humanitarian affairs, and the international landscape.
The breakdown in the ceasefire of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) with the central government represents a major failure in national politics and threatens to escalate to serious humanitarian crisis if not immediately addressed.
China's fast growing capital expansion within South East Asia is raising concerns about landgrabs and exploitative practices, especially as it is often aligned with support for authoritarian regimes such as Burma.
How is the peace process in Myanmar going? What progress has been made toward reform? After decades under military rule, the 21st Century Panglong Conference has been welcomed as the most encouraging recent initiative to address humanitarian suffering and national instability. It prioritises ethnic peace and political reform at a moment of opportunity for national reconciliation. However, as ethnic conflict and refugee displacement continue worrying failings have started to appear, raising many warnings from the country’s troubled history.
In August the Burma army occupied the Kokang region after several days of fighting, ending two decades of cease-fire with the ethnic minority group. The resumption of fighting in northern Burma raises speculation about the other cease-fires. Tensions are rising and the cease-fire groups have put their armed forces on high alert.
Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD government faced a tough situation with China at the time of their inauguration in March. But, as she visits Beijing this week, hopes are high again in China that a redirection of Myanmar's foreign policy could be underway and the pendulum of Myanmar's balancing diplomacy is swinging back to the east. But many challenges lie ahead. These include resolution of the Myitsone dam impasse, repositioning political relations between the two countries, and peaceful settlement of ethnic conflicts in the Myanmar borderlands. The stakes are very high. The outcome of Aung San Suu Kyi's meetings could well come to define Myanmar-China relations for many years to come.
The peoples of Myanmar have long desired a platform for inclusive peace and dialogue where the vital issues of politics, economics, welfare and human rights for all can be discussed together, fully and in a spirit of national reconcilitation and cooperation. Thus any initiative towards peace and dialogue is always welcome.