Govt Single Peace Team Plan Positive: UNFC

By Nyein Nyein 30 April 2012

The United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) says it welcomes the Burmese government’s plan to form one powerful peace negotiation team.

It emerged on Sunday that Naypyidaw would reform its peace committee, which is currently made up of two separate groups, into a single entity. The body is currently comprised of two teams led by former Industry Minister Aung Thaung and the current Railway Minister Aung Min.
The UNFC, which acts as an umbrella group repres
enting eight separate ethnic armed groups, has repeated expressed its desire to meet representatives of the Union government for peace talks.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Monday, Nai Hang Thar, the secretary of UNFC, said the announcement to overhaul the two peace negotiation teams shows that the government respects his organization’s recommendations.

“We asked why there are two groups which could result in two separated outcomes, and why there cannot be a one solid group,” he added.

Aung Min told reporters in Naypyidaw on Sunday that the single Union-level peace team will be reinforced with higher ranking personnel from the administrative body.  But he did not provide any specific names of who will be joining the group.

Observers believe that there were previously two separate peace teams because the government intended to be able to build quicker ceasefires with different ethnic armed groups at the same time.

The railways minister, who has successfully forged peace agreements with many ethnic groups including Karen, Chin, Mon, Karenni and Shan rebels, said that they will keep holding peace talks with the KIA in northernmost Burma where heavy fighting continues.

La Nan, a spokesman for the KIA, said, “From the beginning of April to date, there has been 130 engagements between the KIA and Burmese army.” He added that, “Aung Min’s words are contrary to the current situation in Kachin State’s war-torn areas where the movement of the Burmese government troops have not stopped.

“The KIA has a couple of key demands which have not yet been agreed by the government’s peace representative,” he said. La Nan explained that the KIA wants the government to withdraw its troops from near Kachin-controlled areas and to have any peace agreement signed before international observers.

It has been reported that the new peace committee will be led by a vice-president, although Aung Min only stated that ethnic representatives, state and divisional MPs, as well as military officials, will be included on the new team.

“I think that the idea of forming the new team is based on Aung Thaung’s unsuccessful negotiation with the KIA,” said Nai Hang Thar. “But it is not that the entire peace process led by Aung Thaung will be ignored. It is just the reformation of one solid, powerful group from the two negotiating teams.”