Myanmar Junta Chief Meets Ethnic Shan Leader for Peace Talks

By The Irrawaddy 20 May 2022

General Yawd Serk, the chairman of the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army-South (RCSS/SSA-S), met with regime leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing on Friday, becoming the first ethnic leader to join the junta’s peace talks.

Yawd Serk arrived in Naypyitaw on Thursday from Shan State’s Tachileik to attend the talks at the invitation of the junta chief.

On Thursday, the military regime said that the talks would take place on Friday, but details of the meeting are not yet known.

In April, Min Aung Hlaing invited leaders of ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) to peace talks to end the country’s armed conflicts. In response, the RCSS said in a May 12 statement that it has accepted the invitation with the aim of solving political problems through political means, building a federal union that guarantees equality and self-determination, and solving the current political crisis.

The RCSS’s statement said dialogue is the best way to solve the current political crisis in Myanmar. Only by building a federal union with complete self-determination can the administrative changes desired by the entire people be brought about and a peaceful, modern, developed nation be built, said the RCSS.

Seven of the ten signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) will attend the peace talks: the RCSS, the New Mon State Party, the Karen National Union/ Karen National Liberation Army – Peace Council (KNU/KNLA-PC), the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA), the Arakan Liberation Party, the Pa-O National Liberation Organization and the Lahu Democratic Union.

Non-NCA signatories such the Shan State Progress Party, the United Wa State Army and the National Democratic Alliance Army will also attend the talks.

The Karen National Union, the Kachin Independence Army, the Chin National Front and the Karenni National Progressive Party, all of which are actively fighting the regime, have rejected the talks, reasoning that the invitation was not all-inclusive and not genuine.

Although Min Aung Hlaing has proposed face-to-to face talks with EAO leaders, only the RCSS, the DKBA and the KNU/KNLA-PC will be represented by their leaders. The other EAOs are sending only senior officials.

The junta chief said that the other EAO leaders can’t attend the talks in person for health reasons. At the regime’s press conference on Thursday, junta spokesperson Major-General Zaw Min Tun said that all the EAO delegations comprise senior figures who are authorized to make decisions on behalf of their central executive committees.