Rebels Shun Union Day Pledge ‘Without Concrete Points’: Ethnic Leader

Pic Union day meeting

President Thein Sein met with ethnic armed groups leaders at the Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyidaw on Union Day. (Photo: MNA)

RANGOON — The head of an alliance of 16 ethnic armed groups said most of its members had declined to sign a Union Day pledge reaffirming commitments to Burma’s stalled nationwide ceasefire process, as the government-drafted statement failed to address key outstanding issues.

Nai Hong Sar, who heads the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team, said most groups had passed up on the opportunity to sign the so-called Deed of Commitment for Peace and National Reconciliation during a meeting with the president on Thursday lacked concrete details on key issues, such as on the ethnics’ aspirations for establishing a federal union.

“They are only just saying what sounds good, but if we look at their plan it is very general. They offered not have concrete points of agreement, and there were no strong promises,” he told The Irrawaddy.

“For us [the NCCT], we wanted to see it clearly how he [the president] is going to set up federal system plans or even his strong commitment for doing this before we sign a nationwide peace agreement,” Nai Hong Sar said. “But they did not accept what we asked—instead they only showed their plans for having a political dialogue.”

The leaders of 13 ethnic groups, including most NCCT members and representatives of the powerful United Wa State Army, were invited to attend a meeting with President Thein Sein on Union Day, during which the president called on the groups the sign the statement as a “binding promise, not a legal agreement.”

The statement called for “building a Union based on democratic and federal principles in the spirit of Panglong [agreement],” referring to the 1947 agreement that incorporated Chin, Kachin and Shan states into Burma with the right to secede after 10 years.

Only the Karen National Union, the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army, the Shan State Army-South and a Karen splinter group called the KNLA-Peace Council signed the pledge.

Sai Hla, a spokesperson from SSA-South, said it had signed the pledge as the points it were acceptable and “there is nothing to lose for our group by signing this agreement.

“If we do not take it, we will be far away from them, or they [the Burma Army] may think we do not want to have peace. This is a point we need to consider. So, let cooperate with them, and then we will understand them,” he said.

The UN Secretary-Generals Special Adviser on Burma, Vijay Nambiar, welcomed the signing of the statement by the president and four ethnic leaders as “an historic moment,” but added he hoped that it would “create a
more conducive environment to address” the conflict currently raging in northern Burma “and the serious impact it has had on the civilian population.”

Three groups non-ceasefire groups that are currently embroiled in heavy fighting with the Burma Army in northern Shan State, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, were absent from the meeting.

Burma nationwide ceasefire process lost momentum in September as the government, army and rebels failed to bridge disagreements over key issues. The army’s surprise shelling of a KIA training school used by various rebel groups on Nov. 19 killed 23 cadets and brought on a further decline in mutual trust.

2 Responses to Rebels Shun Union Day Pledge ‘Without Concrete Points’: Ethnic Leader

  1. Fox than shwe and puppet thein sien want to cheat the world with their tricky show in this faked pace agreement to attract foreign investment. All ethnic peace agreement must based on Panglong agreement.

  2. Dear Sir,

    The signing ceremony is just a gesture of peace process but the fighting in Shan State is on display to the world. It is not what the public expects from the leaders of Burma’s native and ethnic people.

    The UNFC leaders have little notice prior to attend the signing ceremony. In fact, they have signed over 10 rounds from the previous cease-fire agreements informally. Signing the paper is a process but the legal document shall be abided. There are so called Six point, Ten points and Twelfth points from the Peace Process but the first point is not yet implemented. It is re-amendment of the 2008 Constitution. The UNFC leaders have to take this seriously that the re-amendment of the Union Constitution and also amendment of State and Regional Constitution shall be on the first and second point of agenda.

    The UNFC’s members will not be contesting at the next election but they are the stakeholders in the entire political transition process. There are over 60 registered political parties in 2015 in Burma. Let’s invite at least 2-3 representatives from each political parties, and 2-3 representatives from UNFC and other ethnic armed forces for a General Unity Assembly.

    The Government should use the time and resource wisely instead of picking up s small piece from one corner to another. If the General Unity Assembly is held in the next 100 days, all UNFC, UNA, USDP, NLD and other small minor parties have time to prepare for a logical debate for Peace Process.

    Establishing a Federal Union of Burma / Myanmar may take 20-30 years in the making. Our leaders have to walk from step one. Local Government’s institution must be enhanced. State Government must be working for welfare of the local populations. Union Government must be working on agreed roles and functions.

    Our leaders (all leaders in our country), have to make a plain statement that they are working for the welfare of the people, not to their own small populations.

    Our leaders have to be making a sincere statement to the nation that they are taking moral and legal responsibilities for the health, education, well beings and welfare of the entire people in the entire country, not just small tribal or ethnic people.

    Union Day was just celebrated on 12th February. We are living with tension, anger, and mistrust among us. What is the meaning of life if we do not trust our social and political institutions.

    We are living with over size military personals, and increasing armed personal in all common border. In 2003, we have to reflect where to from here.

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