Eight NCA Signatories Call For Second Meeting With State Counselor

By Nyein Nyein 15 August 2016

The Peace Process Steering Team (PPST) has called for a second meeting with State Counselor and chair of the National Reconciliation and Peace Center Aung San Suu Kyi to negotiate its terms for the peace process, especially regarding the joint implementation of a nationwide ceasefire pact.

The PPST provides leadership during peace talks to the eight non-state armed groups that signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) with the former administration in 2015. The group met in Chiang Mai Thailand for two days last week and drafted a letter to Suu Kyi.

The letter was sent to Suu Kyi—who is also the chairwoman of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC)—on August 11 and requested another meeting prior to the Union Peace Conference, scheduled to commence on August 31.

The letter stated that the team would like to “discuss coordination based on mutual respect in accordance with the NCA,” which was signed last October.

Since the announcement of the Union Peace Conference in May, the government, Burma Army and ethnic armed organizations have all held a series of talks in order to include their voices in the dialogue framework.

Hla Maung Shwe, secretary of the UPDJC, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that Suu Kyi had replied verbally to the PPST and would meet with the group prior to the conference but a date for a meeting had not yet been set.

Suu Kyi’s schedule is tough to pin down with a visit planned to China this week and the United States next month. She led a UPDJC meeting on Monday to review the framework for political dialogue, which will provide a structure for the peace conference.

In January, a peace conference held under a framework set by former President Thein Sein allowed NCA signatories full participation [regarding discussion and decision-making] while non-signatories were only invited as observers.

It is unclear whether all ethnic armed oganizations, both NCA signatories and non-signatories, will be granted equal status in the national level talks, and all groups have yet to pledge their participation.

Many ethnic leaders have expressed concern at the rush to hold the conference later this month, without clarity regarding the number of delegates or the role of ethnic minority representatives in the national dialogue.

De-facto leader of the new National League for Democracy (NLD) government, Suu Kyi—who heads the peace talks—has already held closed door meetings with the Burma Army and ethnic armed organizations. She met with leaders of the eight NCA signatories in June and the UNFC non-signatories, Wa and Mongla groups in July, respectively.

Little is known to the public regarding these meetings and whether key issues for the individual stakeholders have been addressed.

Some meetings have reportedly focused on the principles of federalism and all-inclusion in the peace process, while others have centered on regional security, livelihood development and economic opportunity.