Govt Invites UWSA, MNDAA to the Peace Table 

By Kyaw Kha 8 June 2016

RANGOON — The United Wa State Army (UWSA), Burma’s largest and most powerful ethnic armed group, and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) have agreed to talk to the Burma government’s peace negotiators.

By the end of the week, the two groups will meet with a preparation subcommittee for what is being billed as the “21st Century Panglong Conference,” Hla Maung Shwe, secretary of the government’s peace negotiation team, told The Irrawaddy.

“Dr. Tin Myo Win himself sent a letter [of invitation to the UWSA and MNDAA],” Hla Maung Shwe said, referring to the Burma government’s chief peace negotiator.

“They received the letter and welcomed it. They want to meet. We have not yet decided on a time or venue because we’re still considering weather conditions and transportation. But it is very likely that the meeting will take place within a couple of days,” Hla Maung Shwe said.

The government’s peace negotiation team will supposedly invite the UWSA and MNDAA to the conference at the meeting and discuss their demands, according to Hla Maung Shwe.

“First, we’ll meet with them. Then, we’ll explain to them [our goals]. Our committee is responsible for making sure they attend the conference. We will know [the final outcome] after our discussions. I think they may be interested in the new landscape under the current government,” Hla Maung Shwe said.

The UWSA and MNDAA did not sign the so-called nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) with former President Thein Sein’s government last October. The UWSA has said before that it did not need to sign the NCA because the truce it signed with the military regime 26 years ago has not collapsed.

Military analysts believe that the UWSA, estimated to have over 30,000 troops, might once again push for autonomy, taking advantage of the government’s invitation for ceasefire.

Meanwhile, the MNDAA signed a preliminary truce with Thein Sein’s government on Sept. 7, 2011, and the two sides have, in the past, held peace talks at the national level. The MNDAA split from the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) on June 30, 1989, and it was one of the first groups to sign a ceasefire with the Burma Army. The military regime designated Shan State’s Mongla region as the MNDAA’s base (Special Region 4), delegating to the armed group a degree of control over some areas in eastern Shan State.

The conference subcommittee also met the United Nationalities Federal Council’s (UNFC) Delegation for Political Negotiation (DPN), comprised of 13 members drawn from various non-state ethnic armed groups who opted out of signing the NCA, last week.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko