Mon Group Rejects ‘Unacceptable’ Govt Ceasefire Proposal

By Lawi Weng 19 November 2013

RANGOON — An ethnic Mon rebel group in southern Burma, the New Mon State Party (NMSP), has rejected a draft put forward by the Burmese government on a proposed nationwide ceasefire agreement, according to a party spokesman.

Nai Hong Sar Bon Khine told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the NMSP opposed nearly half of the draft agreement’s points.

“We have many points of disagreement with their draft,” he said. “Especially points such as requiring us to disarm, or allowing their police to have responsibility for law enforcement in areas under our control, these are unacceptable,” Nai Hong Sar Bon Khine said.

The Burmese government handed the draft proposal to 17 ethnic armed groups at peace talks in Myitkyina, Kachin State, early this month. The coalition of ethnic groups in turn submitted its own draft for the government peace team’s consideration.

The government’s 11-page document contains 25 points detailing Naypyidaw’s vision of how to begin the process of achieving a lasting peace in Burma, which has been plagued by civil war for more than 60 years.

Over the weekend, leaders of the NMSP held a meeting at their headquarters in Ye Township, Mon State, to analyze the government draft. Mon leaders agreed at the meeting to remove points that they did not agree with and added new points that the group felt were necessary.

Nai Hong Sar Bon Khine, who is also a NMSP central committee member, said his group’s leaders suspected that the Burmese government wanted all ethnic armed groups to disarm, though this is not directly stated in the draft proposal.

The NMSP will send its edits to the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team, according to the group’s spokesman.

The NMSP is a member of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) and the Mon group, like the coalition as a whole, has indicated that it will push for the adoption of a new Constitution that grants Burma’s ethnic minorities greater autonomy.

“Our policy is to have a new Constitution,” Nai Hong Sar Bon Khine said. “Until we have a new one, we cannot have political talks. This depends on their [the government’s] intentions. If they have good intentions, this peace process will be successful. If not, we will have a bad situation again.”

The Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), made up of ethnic Palaung fighters based in northern Shan State, has also said it opposes any ceasefire deal that would require them to disarm.

Maran Seng Aung, who is a member of the Kachin Peace Creation Group, said the content of government’s proposed ceasefire was little changed from terms and conditions demanded by Burma’s former military regime.

“We found that there is no difference from the [government’s] past demands. But, we believe that we can negotiate through this draft. We do not think that they will only rely on this draft and refuse to change it,” Maran Seng Aung said.