Ethnic Alliance Holds Off on Signing Ceasefire Agreement

By Nyein Nyein 11 November 2016

Burma’s ethnic armed group alliance the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) has delayed signing the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) because it wants to ensure a “strong agreement” includes all groups, the UNFC’s negotiation delegation told The Irrawaddy.

The government’s peace commission led by Dr. Tin Myo Win met the council’s Delegation for Political Negotiation (DPN) to discuss how non-signatories could continue participation in the peace process at Rangoon’s National Reconciliation and Peace Center on Thursday.

After a half-day meeting, delegation spokesperson Khu Oo Reh told reporters that the process “is moving forward” despite difficulties in the negotiations.

Khu Oo Reh acknowledged public dissatisfaction over the five-year negotiation process but said the council wanted a “strong agreement” to avoid further conflicts.

Ongoing conflicts between the Burma Army and ethnic armed groups in Kachin and northern Shan states have exacerbated negotiations.

UNFC leaders met with State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in July, participated in the ‘21st Century Panglong’ peace conference in August and September, and have continued talks almost every month since then.

“We believe that inclusiveness is the only way to overcome the problem comprehensively,” Khu Oo Reh said. He reiterated that the UNFC had  “agreed to take the path of the NCA,” under the current political landscape.

Despite co-drafting the ceasefire text, UNFC members did not sign in October last year as some of its member groups—the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the Arakan Army—were not accepted by the Burma Army as NCA signatories.

The TNLA and the MNDAA asked to leave the alliance this year and a TNLA spokesperson told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that the group has recently had no contact with the UNFC.
The DPN held a separate meeting with the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee (JMC) on Wednesday.

Khu Oo Reh said they discussed JMC mechanisms, ceasefire codes of conducts, and approaches to political dialogue. “A good result can be expected when we are all agreed on the framework,” he added.

The negotiators will meet for further talks later this month.

Nang Lwin Hnin Pwint contributed to this report.