Naypyitaw


The Peace Commission recently announced it will provide whatever assistance necessary for the country’s ethnic armed groups attending the upcoming summit in eastern Kachin State.

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After a months-long wait, the National League for Democracy government is set to reveal the first details of its planned economic reforms to be implemented over the next five years.

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Lower House Speaker Win Myint has appealed to parliamentarians to inform him of workshops, meetings and trainings beforehand in order to gain official approval for such events; the request applies to sessions to which MPs have been invited by non-governmental and civil society organizations.

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For many reasons, this year’s Martyrs’ Day on July 19 was a significant break from the past. For the first time, it was held under a National League for Democracy-backed government. After several decades of absence, it was also the first time the commander-in-chief attended.

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Observers are cautiously parsing two recent events featuring prominent military officers in the hope of reading their implications for national reconciliation and the success of the 21st-century Panglong Conference due to begin next month.

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It takes two to tango, say Burma-watchers trying to make sense of the relationship burgeoning between the new government and the armed forces. This last week, some intriguing gestures have passed between the two.

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Fresh from a stint back in their constituencies, members of parliament have now returned to Nay Pyi Taw for the second hluttaw session since last November’s elections. As the new session opens today, they face a range of issues, starting with a proposed revision of the budget law.

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As a former legal advisor to the now ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), lawyer Ko Ni has played a prominent role in helping to shape legislation to address a variety of issues. In 2013, he proposed a new law to deal with the growing problem of religious discrimination and hate speech, but it went nowhere under the government of former President Thein Sein. Now, with the NLD in power, he believes that there is a real possibility that a new law could be adopted before the end of the year. He recently spoke to DVB about his thoughts on the prospects for a law that could help to stem the tide of hate crimes in Burma.

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For the first time in more than three decades, Burma released data on the populations of the country’s different religious groups, based on the results of the 2014 census.

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There was a revealing moment at a recent gathering of newly elected lawmakers in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyitaw, when talk turned to their many training sessions with “international experts” and Western politicians on lofty subjects such as “building democracy” and being good legislators.

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Speaking at a public meeting in Rangoon’s Tamwe Township on Monday, Lower House speaker Win Myint said the National League for Democracy (NLD) government is unable to carry out reforms to its full capacity due to financial difficulties caused by the mismanagement of previous administrations.

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Burma’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with US-based aeronautical technology company Aireon LLC to explore the possibility of introducing a spaced-based system to increase surveillance of the country’s airspace.

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Workers are demanding that a new election be held for representatives to the Nay Pyi Taw Arbitration Council, claiming that the recently appointed members were not democratically elected.

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A shift in policy, away from building dams and toward running irrigation channels to farmland, has led to a 50 percent cut in the request for irrigation funding next year, the agriculture ministry says. U Myo Tint Tun, assistant secretary in the ministry, told The Myanmar Times on July 18 that expenditure in 2017-18 would be less than half of this year’s level.

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The international community roared approval when the National League for Democracy (NLD) and its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, swept to power in elections last year. Now, some 100 days after her government took office, pundits are becoming more critical.

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There has been plenty of criticism, both at home and abroad. While observers seem willing to give the still-new administration time to overcome the decades-long legacy of corruption, repression and mismanagement by the former military regime, there is also a feeling that the National League for Democracy had plenty of time to plan for office, and its overwhelming majority in both houses of parliament, coupled with its great popularity in the country and the support it receives from overseas should have translated into more effective, immediate action, even at this early stage.

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The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) has blamed the government for the continued arrest and detention of activists under undemocratic legislation that threatens freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

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Myanmar’s de facto leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi held landmark talks with senior rebel leaders on Sunday, as she strives to seal a ceasefire with a patchwork of ethnic minority militias that have battled the national army for decades.

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Controversy surrounds a crisis management committee that was formed by the new government to tackle protests.

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The government has formed a high-level “Emergency Management Central Committee” tasked with preventing and mitigating interreligious violence in Burma, according to a statement from the President’s Office.

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