Peace Commission Holds Talks With Northern Alliance Members in China

By Nyein Nyein 5 September 2018

CHIANG MAI, Thailand—The government’s Peace Commission (PC) met with three members of the Northern Alliance group of armed organizations in China on Wednesday. The meeting was agreed to in mid-July, when Northern Alliance leaders were in Naypyitaw for a peace conference.

The Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA)’s Brigadier-General Tar Phone Kyaw said Wednesday’s talks between the government delegation and leaders of the TNLA, Arakan Army and Kokang-based Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army were held to build mutual trust, which he said had “been broken” for a long time.

The government negotiators were PC vice chairman U Thein Zaw and secretary U Khin Zaw Oo, both former military generals.

“Both sides agreed to hold further peace negotiations and will meet again next month,” Brig-Gen Tar Phone Kyaw, who is also the TNLA’s general-secretary and who was present at the meeting, told The Irrawaddy.

Representatives of the Kachin Independence Organization/Army and the United Wa State Party/Army were also presented at the meeting, he said.

While he declined to discuss details, the brigadier-general said they discussed ways for peace negotiations “to move forward and to reduce the fighting.” Details of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) and recent armed clashes were not discussed, he said.

“We had lost mutual trust in each other. As we have only just resumed talks, we were not able to discuss issues in detail,” he said. “But we have been able to rebuild trust, which will allow further negotiations to lessen [military] engagement. This is a good step,” Brig-Gen. Tar Phone Kyaw said.

The Irrawaddy tried to contact the government negotiators and representatives of the other groups, but they were not available for comment at press time.

The TNLA has been actively fighting the Myanmar Military in northern Shan State’s Kut Kai, Nam San, Man Tong and Namtu townships, and has also clashed with the Restoration Council of Shan State, an NCA signatory, in Namtu, causing nearly 2,000 residents of at least a dozen villages to flee their homes.