Burma

Don’t Trust Myanmar Junta’s Peace Overtures, Shadow Govt Warns EAOs

By The Irrawaddy 4 May 2022

The acting president of Myanmar’s shadow government has warned the country’s ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) not to accept the junta’s recent invitation to peace talks, saying military regimes rarely keep their promises.

Regime leader Min Aung Hlaing late last month invited the EAO leaders for talks “to end armed conflict”.

Myanmar has around 20 EAOs, of which only 10 have signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement so far.

On Tuesday, the shadow National Unity Government (NUG)’s Acting President Duwa Lashi La said during a cabinet meeting that discussions with the regime would never bring results, “even if they lasted 100 years.”

“They have never kept their promises. Keeping in mind what has happened over the past 70 years, you should be very careful not to jump at any quick promises [the regime makes],” he said, referring to previous Myanmar military regimes’ failures to keep their word on a number of issues ranging from granting autonomy to the country’s ethnic areas to honoring election results, among others.

In his invitation, Min Aung Hlaing said he would talk to EAO leaders “openly and sincerely for the sake of peace”. Several EAOs rejected the offer.

The acting president’s warning came after the regime’s spokesperson said during a recent press conference that since announcing the invitation the junta had made contact with nine of the 10 ceasefire signatories and eight non-signatories.

The junta chief’s request for talks comes as his regime faces the most serious challenges to its attempt to rule the country since the military staged a coup last year. So far the regime has still not been able to bring the country under its control. The armed wings of some powerful EAOs, including the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), are working with the NUG and fighting alongside resistance forces against regime troops, inflicting heavy casualties. Others are unofficially supporting the resistance movement.

The NUG was formed after the coup by lawmakers from Myanmar’s ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) and their ethnic allies to challenge the regime’s legitimacy at home and abroad. Many in Myanmar take the NUG as their legitimate government, while some Western countries are also informally engaging with the parallel government.

Myanmar has been in social and political turmoil since the military seized power from the country’s democratically elected government led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1, 2021. More than one year on, the junta still can’t control the country properly due to unwavering armed resistance across the country.

In April last year, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member, adopted a five-point peace plan for Myanmar, urging the junta to immediately end the violence in the country and to hold an inclusive political dialogue, among other steps. The regime, which has killed more than 1,700 civilians so far, has failed to implement the plan.

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