Military Chief of Staff: Army Not Open to Talks With AA, MNDAA or TNLA

By Htet Naing Zaw 1 March 2017

NAYPYIDAW — Chief of the General Staff of the Burmese military Gen Mya Tun Oo has described ethnic armed alliance the United Nationalities Federal Council’s (UNFC) demand for the army’s unilateral ceasefire “impractical,” and instead has called on the UNFC to sign Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).

“My view is that this is not a question that they [the UNFC] should ask,” the general told the reporters after the military press conference in Naypyidaw on Tuesday, referring to UNFC’s demand.

The ethnic armed alliance’s members should sign the NCA, rather than asking the army to declare its own ceasefire, because their signing would result in an actual ceasefire, said the general.

After a ceasefire by the Burma Army and before UNFC members sign the NCA, the UNFC has proposed that tripartite discussions then be held between the government, political parties and ethnic armed groups. It has also called for international witnesses to be involved in implementing the NCA.

Representatives from the UNFC met Burma’s State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the National Peace and Reconciliation Center (NRPC) in the country’s administrative capital Naypyidaw on Wednesday. The demands surrounding a ceasefire are expected to be on the agenda.

The UNFC is a seven-member ethnic coalition including the Kachin Independence Organization, Shan State Progress Party, Karenni National Progressive Party, New Mon State Party, Arakan National Council, Lahu Democratic Union and the Wa National Organization.

The general re-affirmed the Burma’s Army stance on the Arakan Army (AA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), saying that the army has “no reason” to hold peace talks with them because they came to existence only after emergence of a democratic government, in contrast to other long-established ethnic armed groups.

“We’ve no reason to invite those groups to the peace [process], to discuss peace and ask them to sign NCA,” said the general.

However, he echoed Burma Army Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing and said that both sides in the conflict are Burmese citizens, and any loss to a particular side or both sides is the loss to the country.

He also defended former President U Thein Sein’s administration regarding criticism over the NCA. “It is not that President U Thein Sein had discussed the NCA helter-skelter. The negotiation took four years, and 16 groups participated and engaged in heated debate,” Gen Mya Tun Oo said, adding that the Tatmadaw is 100 percent hopeful that peace will be achieved.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko