Govt Refuses to Deal With Wa-Led Alliance as Bloc

By Kyaw Kha 14 July 2017

YANGON — The government has rejected the idea of holding peace talks with an alliance of seven ethnic armed groups based in northeast Myanmar as a single entity and will only negotiate with them separately, according to the government’s peace commission.

“We don’t accept the northern groups,” said the commission’s spokesperson U Aung Soe, referring to the alliance. “We have already made it clear that we don’t accept it. We are ready to meet and negotiate with any of them separately anytime.”

Led by the United Wa State Army (UWSA), the alliance also comprises the Arakan Army (AA), Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Shan State Progressive Party (SSPP), and National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA)

The alliance said it would only hold talks with the government as a coalition under its name the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC), which it formed in the third week of April.

TNLA spokesperson Brig-Gen Mai Bone Kyaw told The Irrawaddy that the FPNCC expected the government’s refusal to deal with them as a single entity.

“We FPNCC members need to hold a meeting to decide if we can meet separately with the government,” he told The Irrawaddy.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) government offered to hold talks with each member or the UWSA, SSPP and NDAA as one group, and the KIA, TNLA, MNDAA and AA as another group, via China’s special envoy on Asian Affairs Sun Guoxiang in mid-June. But the FPNCC rejected the offer.

In an appearance brokered by the Chinese government, representatives of the seven ethnic armed groups attended the second session of the 21st Century Panglong conference in May and held private talks with State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi during the event.

Clashes are ongoing between the Myanmar Army and the KIA and TNLA in Shan and Kachin states.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.