Representatives of eight non-state armed groups and the Burma Army agreed to a code of conduct for signatories to the so-called nationwide ceasefire agreement during their second Joint Implementation Coordination Meeting on Wednesday, just over a month after signing the peace pact.
The meeting in Naypyidaw was led by Vice President Dr. Sai Mauk Kham on the government side and Pado Kwe Htoo Win for the non-state armies, comprising seven ethnic rebel groups and the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF). The two-day meeting that began this week on Tuesday also discussed the road ahead for Burma’s peace process and reviewed progress made at the stakeholders’ previous meeting at the end of October, according to participants.
“We were able to approve the Joint Monitoring Committee members, the guidelines for the JMC tasks and the code of conduct for the armed groups [both government and rebel] to follow,” said Pado Kwe Htoo Win, the Karen National Union (KNU) secretary and an ethnic leader attending the Joint Implementation Coordination Meeting.
The joint committee is made up of 26 representatives tasked with monitoring implementation of the ceasefire agreement. Ten representatives have been drawn each from the government and from among the eight ceasefire signatories, with the remaining six representatives being civilian leaders put forward by both sides. One member of the latter contingent is Ko Ko Gyi, a prominent pro-democracy leader with the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society.
At the Union level, the Joint Monitoring Committee is being chaired by Lt-Gen Yar Pyay of the Burma Army, with Gen. Saw Isaac Po of the KNU serving as vice chairman. They will form the respective state-level Joint Monitoring Committees in Shan, Chin and Karen states, where rebel signatories to the ceasefire control territory.
Formation of the Joint Monitoring Committee is in line with the peace process framework laid out in the nationwide ceasefire agreement signed on Oct. 15 in Naypyidaw.
Salai Yaw Aung, an ABSDF central committee member and a member of the Joint Monitoring Committee, told The Irrawaddy that negotiations were on track to see the commencement of a political dialogue by mid-January.
Since the signing of the nationwide ceasefire accord, there had been no clashes between government troops in Karen State and parts of Shan State controlled by the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), a ceasefire signatory, Salai Yaw Aung said.
The same cannot be said, however, for areas in Shan and Kachin states controlled by the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) and Kachin Independence Army (KIA), which have not yet signed the ceasefire and have been subject in recent weeks to intensified Burma Army offensives.
Several of the country’s most formidable ethnic armed groups have not signed onto the nationwide ceasefire agreement.
Pado Kwe Htoo Win said signatories to the accord had not engaged in further fighting with the government “because we all value the NCA [nationwide ceasefire agreement] text,” while adding that he was concerned by the ongoing hostilities in Shan and Kachin states.
“Because we have this NCA text, which is meant to stop the war nationwide—all of the participating groups in drafting the NCA also wanted the war to stop—we told the government representatives to help stop the current conflicts in Shan State,” he said.
The Burma Army mouthpiece Myawady, which was cited by the Global New Light of Myanmar on Wednesday, said aerial strikes had been used on a KIA camp in Kachin State’s Mohnyin Township.
“The Tatmadaw are continuing to comb the area of the KIA,” the English-language daily reported.
The ceasefire implementation team is due to meet with representatives of the country’s 91 political parties on Saturday to discuss drafting a framework for the political dialogue, which is supposed to commence within 90 days of the ceasefire signing.
There will be 16 representatives each from the government, non-state armed groups and political parties involved in drafting the framework, Pado Kwe Htoo Win said. State media on Thursday called the as-yet-unformed body the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee, reporting that it would be required to draft the framework for political dialogue within 60 days of the 48-member committee’s formation.
Correction: A previous version of this story transliterated the name of the vice chairman of the Joint Monitoring Committee as Saw Aik Zet Phone.