By Subir Bhaumik
Nay Pyi Taw, Aug 9 (IANS) Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi will inaugurate a three-day international conference here on Friday to review the progress towards democracy in the country, the challenges ahead and the roadmap for the future.
More than 30 speakers from Myanmar and abroad are to participate in the “Forum on Myanmar’s Democratic Transition”, that will see ambassadors from India, Norway and Singapore and other diplomats, UN functionaries and leading academics specialising on Myanmar join in the deliberations.
The conference, being held at Convention Centre-2 here, is organised by Myanmar’s Ministry of Information with support from a host of global and local partners.
After her inaugural speech, Information Minister Pe Myint will spell out the context in which the Forum is being organised, its objectives and what it seeks to achieve.
Several ministers and lawmakers, leaders of civil society groups, media practitioners, business leaders and veteran civil servants and representatives from Myanmar military will be joined by a number of international participants that include Indonesian Lt. Gen. (retd) Agus Widjojo, former Vice Chairman of Indonesia and Tentara Nasional Indonesia’s (TNI) Chief of Territorial Affairs, and one of its leading intellectuals.
Six plenary sessions bringing together more than 30 speakers will be followed by as many winding-up interactive sessions that will seek out views from a cross-section of more than 500 participants that would include special observers from foreign governments and global bodies who support Myanmar’s transition to democracy.
The Forum is seen as both a stock-taking exercise in Myanmar’s transition to democracy as to identify the hurdles that confront the complex process and chart out a roadmap for the future.
“The Forum will be the largest review exercise on Myanmar’s democratic process so far,” said U Myint Kyaw, deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Information, who is heading the organisational effort for the Forum.
At a time when the world is drifting towards intolerant right-wing sectarian regimes and even established democracies are showing signs of erosion of the spirit of democracy, Myanmar is struggling hard to emerge into a functional democracy, leaving behind more than five decades of authoritarian rule.
In the process, it faces many challenges like the one of establishing democratic federalism to ensure inclusive future for the nation’s many ethnic minorities, many of whom have challenged the Union government with force of arms for decades.
(Subir Bhaumik can be reached at [email protected])
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