Prominent opposition political leaders will travel to Thailand later this week for talks with armed ethnic groups on the peace process and political liberalisation, 88 Generation leader Min Ko Naing says.

Min Ko Naing said the meeting, which will be the largest to date between opposition political forces inside Myanmar and armed ethnic groups, will focus on implementation of a democratic federal system.

“The subject is just to become a democratic, federal country. [The topics] will include democratisation and also peace building,” he said.

The talks will be held in the Thai border town of Mae Sot on July 3-4 at the invitation of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), a coalition of around a dozen armed ethnic groups.

The UNFC spawned the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), which is negotiating a nationwide ceasefire agreement with the government’s Union Peace-making Work Committee.

In addition to the 88 Generation and UNFC, the talks will be attended by the United Nationalities Alliance (UNA) – another coalition of armed ethnic groups – the National League for Democracy, a group of representatives who won seats in the 1990 election and the committee that implemented the decisions from the 8888 silver jubilee ceremony, held in 2013, said U Zaw Min, head of office at the 88 Generation.

Pre-negotiations for the meeting were conducted by representatives from the UNA, 88 Generation and 8888 committee on June 25.

While the UNFC, UNA and other armed groups have met and discussed the issues with opposition politicians previously, the July 3-4 will be the first meeting involving a wide range of groups.

The meeting comes as the Union Peace-making Work Committee and NCCT enter the final stages of agreeing on the text of a nationwide ceasefire, which is considered an important step before conducting talks on the country’s political future.

U Zaw Min said the July 3-4 meeting will help prepare for this nationwide political dialogue.

“Our opinion on political dialogue [between ethnic armed groups and government] is just that we want them to reach a settlement and get an agreement,” he said.

Link: http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/national-news/10875-ethnic-armed-groups-opposition-parties-to-meet-in-mae-sot.html