Burma Government Invites Northern Alliance to Peace Talks

By Kyaw Kha 20 December 2016

RANGOON — The Burma government has proposed peace talks with the four ethnic armed groups of the Northern Alliance.

The government has instructed the National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC) to hold talks with the four ethnic armed groups. The NRPC is negotiating to arrange informal meetings between the two sides in China, according to U Hla Maung Shwe, a peace commission member who spoke to The Irrawaddy.

“The government will continue peace negotiations,” said U Hla Maung Shwe. “We want to discuss things like signing the nationwide ceasefire agreement, attending the 21st Century Panglong conference, and starting a political dialogue. We want to discuss how we can move to federalism together. But to make this happen, we need dialogue. So our approach is to start with informal talks.”

The Northern Alliance is still negotiating with the peace commission over details of the government’s proposal, according to Lt-Col Kyaw Han, a Northern Alliance representative.

“We have not yet appointed a date,” said Lt-Col Kyaw Han. “We are still negotiating. We proposed meeting on Dec. 18 and 19. But they replied that they were not free.”

On Nov. 20, the Northern Alliance launched a two-week offensive in northern Shan State, attacking Burma Army positions in several townships including Muse, Kutkai, and Namkham. Northern Alliance forces retreated from Mong Ko village, Muse Township, following air strikes by the Burmese air force in the first week of December.

The four ethnic armed groups are the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the Arakan Army (AA).

On Nov. 26, the Chinese foreign ministry invited both sides of the conflict to Kunming, China to initiate peace talks, but those meetings collapsed before they could seriously get started. Currently, the Burma Army is launching attacks on KIA military positions near the KIA’s headquarters in Laiza, Kachin State, the KIA has reported.

The Northern Alliance has also proposed that the government make an invitation to the United Wa State Army to attend the peace talks, according to TNLA spokesman Col. Tar Bong Kyaw.

“We have proposed that USWA should be at the meeting as an observer to witness the talks,” he told The Irrawaddy.