Peace Process: The President should be neutral if he really wants it

On 18 July, BBC Burmese program reported that President Thein Sein, who was on a visit to UK, in response to the question why there were so many clashes between the Shan resistance movements and the Burma Army despite the ceasefire signed between the two sides, had replied that the reason was the rebels were collecting taxes from the people.

His reply not surprisingly has enraged all the armed movements that have long fought against the Burma Army, which to them is a foreign armed forces that has occupied their ancestral lands, robbed them of their riches and committed countless acts of abuses against their people.

Not that the resistance movements that are, as the late Mao Zedong had likened them to, fish in the water that is likened to the people, can survive without their support.

But the fact is that a ceasefire has been signed that should have been strictly observed by each side so they don’t pose as obstacles to the planned political dialogue. Moreover, liaison offices have been established at each Burma Army regional headquarters so both sides could sort out and settle any difference that arises between them.

Blaming the resistance movements, true or not, therefore is inappropriate as well as unfortunate, because it has shaken the trust that he had worked so hard to gain from the rebel leaders.

Hopefully, it is not too late to regain their trust. Because the hunger for peace of these leaders and their people is so great, they are willing to let it go, if such ill-advised statements are not repeated.

Most of all, the President should from now on place himself squarely between the Burma Army and the resistance and maintain a strict impartial stance.

We know it will not be easy for him, or anyone in his unenviable position, to do that. But if he is determined on achieving peace for the people during his tenure, this is it. He doesn’t have any other choice.

We therefore hope, for the sake of peace and those who are looking up to him like us and the people, he’s got what it takes.


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