Myanmar Govt, NCA Signatories Eye Resumption of Formal Talks Next Month

By The Irrawaddy 22 November 2019

YANGON – The government and the ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) that have signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement have discussed holding the long-awaited JICM next month, but no exact date has yet been set.

The JICM (Joint Ceasefire Implementation Committee Meeting) is seen as a way to resume formal peace negotiations, which have been postponed for a year since November 2018.

The government peace delegation met with the NCA signatories this week (on Nov. 19, 20 and 22) in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand to ensure that trust-building talks go on, said U Hla Maung Shwe, an adviser to the Myanmar Peace Commission (PC).

U Hla Maung Shwe said the government negotiators hope to convene the JICM in December, before the Christmas holidays. The EAOs will respond after their discussions at Peace Process Steering Team talks in early December, he said after the most recent meetings.

Before formal peace talks resume, the Karen National Union (KNU) and Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) have expressed a preference to hold thorough discussions with the government and Tatmadaw on basic federal principles and implementation of the NCA, as well as joint ceasefire monitoring.

Peace Commission Chairman Dr. Tin Myo Win and military leaders meet with the RCSS delegation led by its chief of staff, General Pao Khay, in Chiang Mai, Thailand on Nov. 19, 2019. / Hla Maung Shwe / Facebook

Nai Hong Sar, the vice chairman of the New Mon State Party, said EAO representatives are negotiating to convene the JICM sooner.

He told The Irrawaddy on Friday that his group supports the KNU and RCSS’s position that more informal talks should be held before the formal peace process resumes.

On Friday, peace negotiators led by U Khin Zaw Oo, the secretary of the PC, met the Karen National Union’s delegation led by its general secretary, Padoh Saw Tadoh Moo.

U Zaw Htay, a spokesman for the State Counselor’s Office, which oversees the peace talks, wrote “fruitful and successful meeting with the KNU today.”

On Nov. 20, the PC delegation met with representatives of 10 signatories of the NCA.

On Nov. 19, PC chairman Dr. Tin Myo Win, joined by Lieutenant General Yar Pyae and and Lieutenant General Min Naung from the Office of the Commander-in-Chief (Army) held a meeting with the RCSS, as part of efforts to rebuild trust with the group. The RCSS canceled its participation in commemorations of the NCA’s fourth anniversary on Oct. 28, after the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s military) blocked the group’s chairman from traveling along a land route.

U Hla Maung Shwe said regular meetings would allow the KNU and the RCSS to share concerns and would allow the trust-building process to move forward.