Myanmar’s Civilian Government Holds Talks With Arakan Army
By The Irrawaddy 16 May 2022
In an attempt to engage with armed groups which can help topple Myanmar’s military regime, the civilian National Unity Government (NUG) said it held an online meeting with Rakhine State’s Arakan Army (AA).
The shadow government’s Alliance Relations Committee, its foreign minister Daw Zin Mar Aung and prominent ’88 Generation leader U Min Ko Naing spoke to AA chief Major General Tun Myat Naing and his deputy Brigadier General Nyo Tun Aung for two hours on Monday.
The NUG said it was a cordial discussion about the situation and the shadow government’s activities.
Formed in April last year following the coup, the NUG is made up of ousted National League for Democracy lawmakers and allies from ethnic minorities to challenge junta legitimacy at home and abroad.
The NUG has been trying to build trust with ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) to fight the regime, promising a federal democratic union after the regime is ousted.
Major EAOs like the Karen National Liberation Army and Kachin Independence Army have formal alliances and fight with the NUG’s armed wing, the people’s defense forces (PDFs). The AA has supported the PDFs with training and weapons.
Established in 2009, the AA has been fighting the military in Rakhine State since 2015 for self-determination for the Rakhine or Arakan community.
It has the support of the Rakhine population and was inflicting huge casualties on the military in Rakhine State and Paletwa Township in neighboring Chin State until an informal ceasefire was agreed in late 2020.
The AA has since set up its own administration and judiciary across much of the state.
Despite the ceasefire, tensions between the regime and AA remain high.
Recently, Tun Myat Naing tweeted the junta’s western commander, reminding him where Rakhine State is located and warning him not to irritate the AA.
On Sunday, fighting broke out between the AA and regime in Paletwa after AA troops fired at a helicopter bringing food to junta troops.