The 14 participants included President U Thein Sein, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Deputy Commander-in-Chief Soe Win, Union Parliament Speaker Thura U Shwe Mann, Nationalities Brotherhood Federation leader U Sai Aik Pao, Federal Democratic Alliance leader U Khin Maung Swe, United Nationalities Alliance leader U Khun Htun Oo and opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who met at the Presidential Palace in Nay Pyi Taw on the morning of October 31.
With National League for Democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi complaining afterwards that participants were only allowed to speak for 10 minutes each during the two-hour meeting, little in the way of concrete progress appears to have come out of the meeting, according to observers. However, the participants agreed to meet again.
In his opening speech, President U Thein Sein urged “all national political forces to openly participate in the dialogue to seek the best means to solve Myanmar’s challenges.”
He said that it is important to sign the nationwide ceasefire agreement at the end of 2014 or in early 2015 and adopt the basic frameworks for holding more political dialogue.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing agreed to amend the 2008 Constitution in line with its provisions and to discuss the amendments in parliament.
Chairman of the National Democratic Front U Khin Maung Swe who represented the Federal Democracy Alliance told Mizzima, “It did not come out with a significant result but just as an exchange of views only.”
He said the meeting did not focus on the future issues of the nation and their prospects.
On behalf of the chairman of Shan Nationalities League for Democracy representing the United Nationalities Alliance, Secretary U Sai Nyunt Lwin said, “This dialogue is an initiative only, so it will not come out with a result.”
He said there was little chance to expect a strong result from such an initiative.
Spokesperson for the President U Ye Htut told participants that they should recount their experiences in the meeting to relevant organizations in a bid to prepare for the next talks. So in this respect, it can be said that the dialogue was successful, he told media.
Except those from judiciary, fourteen top leaders from the legislature and executive pillars, Union Election Commission, defence and political parties attended the dialogue and they agreed to hold one more meeting at an opportune time, he said.
U Ye Htut rebuffed criticism that the talks were a political show ahead of the upcoming ASEAN Summit to be attended by US President Barack Obama in Nay Pyi Taw on November 11 and 12.
The US President telephoned President U Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi just hours before the meeting, speaking about the coming 2015 elections which are seen as a test of the government’s ongoing political and economic reform process.