First Day of Peace Talks: Agreeing to Disagree
06 January 2012: The first day of peace talks between the Chin National Front (CNF) and the new State government in Hakha ended today with both parties ‘agreeing to disagree’ without any final formal agreement.
Speaking to Chinland Guardian at the end of Thursday’s talks, CNF peace delegation team leader Dr. Sui Khar said, “We haven’t reached any formal agreement yet. That will be the discussion for the next day. But we have basically agreed to disagree with each other.”
Separately, the CNF peace delegation is also expected to meet with a group of Chin State ministers on Friday, according to an inside source. It is immediately not clear whether Chief Minister ex-general Hung Ngai will be present in that meeting.
The two-day peace talks is being held in the Chin State’s capital amidst public euphoria and historic welcome ceremonies for the CNF peace delegation in Thantlang and Hakha towns where thousands of people clad in traditional dresses packed the streets to greet the ten-member negotiating team.
Some observers believe the huge public support will give the CNF an added negotiating power as it shows how much support the organization enjoys from the Chin people.
“We have been regularly ‘required’ to greet state officials during their visits to town on countless occasions but this time we came out on the street on our own account. People say ‘we even greet Burmese officials, why not our own heroes?’,” said an elderly woman in Hakha.
The current peace talks is aimed at securing a ceasefire between the Chin National Army, the armed wing of CNF and Burmese government troops, which have fought for the last 23 years. It followed an initial meeting between the CNF and Burma’s Railways Minister Aung Min in November on the Thai-Burma border.
If a cease-fire agreement is reached between the two sides, more negations are expected to follow so that substantive political issues can be discussed, according to CNF source.