Five members of the ethnic alliance the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) will sign the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA), announced State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, following her State of the Union address on Thursday evening, while the two of the organization’s powerful members—the Kachin and Shan armed groups—appear to be left behind.
The Karenni National Progressive Party, New Mon State Party, the Arakan National Council, Lahu Democratic Union and the Wa National Organization will sign the NCA, she said in the later speech, which was read on the state-run MRTV. But the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N)—both currently engaged in active conflict with the Burma Army—were not on the list.
“It is very good news, as well as the best gift on this [first] anniversary of the [National League for Democracy] government,” the State Counselor said, adding that the she was glad that the five groups had “put their trust” in her government and the peace process.
There has been speculation that such a move could create a division within the ethnic alliance: the KIO and SSPP/SSA-N attended an ethnic summit in Panghsang hosted by the United Wa State Army in February, and have voiced a desire to replace the NCA with a new approach to the peace process.
The UNFC members did not sign the NCA with eight other armed groups in October 2015, and until recently they were still negotiating the process with the government, proposing eight demands which would precede their signing the pact. Among these demands included the government declaring a unilateral ceasefire.