Ethnic Armed Groups Discuss Peace Process Participation

By Lawi Weng 20 September 2018

Ethnic armed groups held a two-day meeting in Laiza, Kachin State, at the headquarters of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) to discuss how they could cooperate for participation in the country’s peace process, according to a KIA spokesperson.

At least 12 ethnic armed groups participated including 10 signatories to the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) and other non-signatories including the KIA and Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP).

Two main topics were discussed at the meeting, according to Col Naw Bu, a spokesperson from the KIA/KIO (Kachin Independence Organization).

First, NCA signatories explained the latest peace negotiations with the government. Then, the discussion moved to how all ethnic armed groups could participate in the peace deal, he said.

“It was just a preliminary meeting. No agreements were made. We just discussed how we could all participate,” Col Naw Bu added.

Previously, NCA signatories released a statement that said they would try to bring non-signatories into the peace deal. The meeting in Laiza is one of the first steps in trying to achieve that aim.

Ethnic armed organizations recently asked Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to hold a meeting with the government, army and parliament soon, in order to discuss two issues that have created a deadlock in negotiations.

The first issue is that the Myanmar Army has asked ethnic leaders to promise that their groups would not secede from the Union. The second issue is the idea that Myanmar should have only one army, placing ethnic armed groups under the command of the Myanmar Army.

Nai Hong Sar, vice chairman of the New Mon State Party, said that ethnic armed leaders will not make these concessions to the army at this point, as the country does not have a real democracy and ethnic people still lack rights. Ethnic leaders will accept one national army when Myanmar has a true democracy and ethnic people are granted self-determination, he added.