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Youth day celebrations in Myanmar

On August 11-12 the International Youth Day was celebrated in Yangon, Myanmar.

DIPD in Myanmar had invited representatives from the political youth across the country, and the day was celebrated with presentations, workshops and discussions. The theme was Youth Building Peace.

The atmosphere, the engagement and the will to find solutions on how to make good peace negotiations was high among the gathered youth. Furthermore the weekend resulted in the making of a committee with 14 representatives from different parties, who will jointly advocate for youth inclusion in the peace negotiations in Myanmar.

Watch the video from the day below, where we also asked representatives from the Danish political youth to give their perspectives on what peace means.

DIPD supports UPDJC Political Party Group Dialogue

During a three-day meeting at the end of July, DIPD has supported the political parties of Myanmar in developing consensus-based policy proposals to the country’s peace process. The three-day meeting was held in preparation to the third meeting of Myanmar’s 21st Century Panglong Conference, which will be held later in 2017.

Myanmar’s Union Peace Conference, also known as the 21st Century Panglong Conference, aims to bring peace to Myanmar while developing the guiding principles for a federal democratic union. In the run-up to the third meeting of Myanmar’s 21st Century Panglong Conference in late 2017, DIPD supported the political parties of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) to discuss different policy principles for consideration in the political sector at a meeting held from 27-29 July in Yangon. The meeting is first among a series of meetings to support political parties, as one of the key stakeholders in the peace process, to develop policy proposals to Panglong that are based on dialogue and consensus among the members of the UPDJC political party party group.

Myanmar’s political parties have increasingly engaged in the peace process through the 21st Century Panglong dialogues. The second meeting of the Panglong Peace Conference, which was held in Naypyitaw in May 2017, concluded with 37 jointly agreed principles, which were presented as part of the Union Agreement in accordance with the Nationwide Ceasefire Accord (NCA).

“Coming together” or “holding together”?

On the first day, international and local experts made presentations on the topics of distribution of powers and state constitutions in a federal system. Experts discussed how different processes of forming federal states have led to significant diversity in state structure and the distribution of powers. In six working groups, and political party leaders conducted an exercise on distribution of powers between the union and state/regional governments, and asked a number of questions regarding principles of division of powers.

Protecting Minority Rights in a Federal Democratic Union

Continuing to build on topics identified for further discussion at the previous Panglong Conference, on the second day experts presented principles and case studies related to self-determination and the protection of minority rights in a federal democratic union. On the last day, parties held productive discussions on a number of the issues raised throughout the first two days of meeting.

Sai Kyaw Nyunt, secretary of political parties of the UPDJC reflected the meeting as highly useful and also highlighted that the group would like to continue to cooperate with DIPD on the other major topics to be discussed during the upcoming Union Peace Conference. According to the Framework for Political Dialogue, the five major topics include political issues, economic issues, social issues, security issues, and land and environmental issues.

Next Steps

Based on the presentations and discussions held, parties identified a range of principles requiring further dialogue and consensus building. Parties’ progress on these core principles demonstrates parties’ commitment to engage meaningfully on these themes. DIPD will work in support and partnership with the UPDJC party group over the coming period to enhance dialogue and capacity development for parties that can make them more effective participants in the process of re-imagining a democratic federal union for Myanmar.

More information

Contact DIPD Country Representative in Myanmar, Khin Thazin Myint: ktzm@dipd.dk

Contact DIPD Senior Advisor, Hanne Lund Madsen: hlm@dipd.dk

DIPD celebrates the 5th Anniversary of its Myanmar Programme

The year 2017 is a special year for DIPD’s programme in Myanmar. This year we celebrate the 5th anniversary of the establishment of DIPD Myanmar – the Myanmar Multiparty Democracy Programme. On 26 May 2012, the DIPD board formally approved its engagement in Myanmar and over the past five years, the programme has blossomed into a forum for dialogue, a knowledge hub and a democracy assistance provider for political parties in Myanmar.

It was a historic visit when Thura U Shwe Mann, the former Speaker of the Lower House of the Parliament of Myanmar, came to Denmark in May 2012 together with a parliamentary delegation. The visit of Thura U Shwe Mann presented DIPD with an opportunity to start working in Myanmar as the country had just started its democratic transition process. In line with DIPD’s mandate and guiding principles of inclusivity, DIPD held broad consultations with political parties across the political rainbow, including members of parliament, chairs of parliamentary committees, presidential advisers, civil society organisations and think-tanks and finally also other donor organisations working with democracy issues in Myanmar.

On 26 July 2017, MMDP marked its 5th Year Anniversary. Among the audience were the Danish Ambassador to Myanmar, Members of the Yangon Region Sub Election Commission, political party leaders and friends and colleagues from local and international partner organisations. In his speech, Ambassador Peter Lysholt Hansen stressed the necessity of cooperation among the political parties to find solutions in developing democratic culture and the development of multi-party democracy in Myanmar. The Ambassador also urged increased participation of women in political parties and the peace process in Myanmar.

Ambassador Hansen proudly said, “Five years later a lot things have changed. In Myanmar, we’ve seen very successful elections and now starting a new phase of the transition process. DIPD has also learned a lot and followed the road of Myanmar and I am convinced that DIPD is making a very positive contribution to the development of multi-party democracy in Myanmar.”

Zar Chi Lynn from Union Solidarity and Development Party shared her experience “I have joined many trainings, dialogues and seminars supported by DIPD and I found their youth program particularly useful […] I wish DIPD for many successful years head and for their continued support in Myanmar’s democratisation process.”

“As a member of Myanmar Press Council, I coordinate with DIPD on a number of issues. I would say our country’s transition has been in turmoil but with the support of organisation like DIPD I think we can move faster in the process.” U Thiha Saw remarked.

Finally, Cheery Zahau said that “[…] It is very much needed initiative in Myanmar and we, as political party members, should continue to deepen our engagement with MMDP.”

More information
Read more about the Myanmar programme here: www.myanmarmultiparty.org

Contact DIPD Senior Advisor, Hanne  Lund Madsen: hlm@dipd.dk

Contact DIPD Country Representative for Myanmar, Khin Thazin Myint: ktzm@dipd.dk

Despite the odds, Nepal’s Constitution is being implemented

In an interview with DIPD’s representative in Nepal, senior leader of the Maoist party of Nepal, mr. Dina Nath Sharm, gives his honest analysis of the political sitution in the country.

The current chair of DIPD partner Joint Mechanism for Political Party Strengthening (JOMPOPS), Mr. Dina Nath Sharma, is one of the senior leaders of the Maoist party of Nepal. Currently, the Maoist party is the third largest in Nepal’s Parliament and Sharma is a member of the Central Secretariat — the highest decision-making body of the party comprising 34 members.

Sharma began his political career nearly 50 years ago as an activist committed to overthrowing the prevailing autocratic Panchayat regime. In around 2000, he joined the Maoist party as the party emerged as a formidable champion of the underclass in Nepal. Apart from being a political leader, Sharma is also a lover of literature with 11 published books. He describes one of his saddest moments in life as when the Nepal Army, during his underground years, burnt his whole house in Baglung where many of his unpublished writings, scarce historical documents, and his beloved collection of books were kept.

Sharma was the head of the Peace Negotiation Team from the Maoist party that finally led the party to a democratic peaceful fold.  Once the party joined the democratic mainstream, Sharma became the Minister for Education as well as a Member of Parliament a few times. He headed the International Department of the party till recently and was also the spokesperson of the party. These days, Sharma heads the Intellectual Department of the party and thereby he is the key person to guide the Maoist party’s policies both inside the party as well as in the Government/Parliament.  DIPD Representative met with the JOMPOPS Chair Sharma to discuss about the current political situation in Nepal. Below are excerpts from that discussion

– Could you briefly describe the current political situation of Nepal?

Since the promulgation of the new Constitution in September 2015, the Madhesi issue has emerged as the most pressing problem for us. The Maoist government led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal was able to make a few breakthroughs in bringing the Madhesi forces to accept the present constitutional framework.

Most Madhesi-based parties participated in the recent local elections. All the Madhesi-based parties have agreed to participate in the local elections in the remaining province 2 scheduled in coming September. These elections are crucial for the implementation of our new Constitution.

Now, we are planning to hold both elections, parliament and province, in November 2017. We have already proposed this with the Election Commission.  If we can hold these two elections in November then we can meet the deadline stipulated in the new Constitution. It would be also preferable from cost point of view; we have realized that the elections have become too expensive in Nepal. The Election Commission right now is saying that they need at least one month between two elections.

Irrespective of what the ECN finally decides, it is certain that Nepal will be fully focused on holding these two elections in the coming months.  Once the elections take place, our main agenda would be economic development.

– What are the main challenges to achieve what you just described?

We have seen that there are powerful forces, which are against the current transformation of Nepal into a secular federal republic.  These forces also oppose the move towards proportional representation based inclusion of diverse groups in the decision-making bodies of the state.

Such forces occupy powerful positions in bureaucracy and in the court and also in major political parties to an extent.  They are trying to thwart the Constitution implementation process.  You can say that Nepal’s current politics is shaped mostly by the contradiction between those that support the changes and those that oppose them.

So, I see the main challenge for us is to defeat those powerful forces actively trying to reverse the current political changes.

– What is your analysis of the recent local elections?

Firstly, I must mention that despite challenges we were able to hold these local elections peacefully and according to the international standards of free and fair elections. This is a great achievement for us.

The elections results showed that people prefer big strong parties as most votes have gone to one of the three major parties in Nepal. In the coming days, we are likely to see more mergers of the political parties in Nepal.

In the local elections, UML became the first party followed by the Nepali Congress party. My party came to the third position.  We are not discouraged by this result at all. The government led by the Maoist party was able to conduct the elections after 20 years, we think that it is a significant success for our party.

More importantly, all the political agendas raised by the Maoist party have been established with the beginning of the implementation of the new Constitution.

Now, Nepal has one of the most progressive Constitutions in the world. Our Constitution ensures that our local level exercises maximum power. Previously marginalized groups such as women, Dalits and Muslims have been empowered remarkably.

We feel that we have the youngest Constitution in the world in content as well as in essence. This is an era of inclusive democracy and Nepal’s new Constitution fully embraces that essence. We don’t know what the global community says about this. We definitely feel great about it.

– Could you say something about your engagement with DIPD as a JOMPOPS member?

We had a political culture in which one party did not tolerate another party. Interactions between different political parties were also limited.

In JOMPOPS, we have parties with different ideologies, different backgrounds, and different strengths. We are working together to find a common ground on important national agendas. Through engagement with DIPD, we were inspired about this culture of inter-party collaboration.

In the coming days, as Nepal starts to focus on economic agendas, we would want to hear more through DIPD about Denmark’s story of its economic prosperity.

More information

Contact DIPD’s Country Representative for Nepal, Shristi Rana: shristi@dipd.org.np

Contact DIPD Project Coordinator, Bo Karlsen: boka@dipd.dk