NAYPYITAW — The Myanmar government opened the door for non-signatories of the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) to attend an event to mark the two-year anniversary of the signing of the accord by some of Myanmar’s ethnic armed groups.
The government accepted on Tuesday a proposal by the eight NCA signatories to allow the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC)—a group of seven ethnic armed groups based in northern Myanmar led by the United Wa State Army (UWSA)—and another ethnic bloc the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) to join the event.
This followed an urgent meeting of the Peace Process Steering Team (PPST) representing the eight NCA signatories—including the Karen National Union (KNU), the Chin National Front (CNF) and the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP)—on the peace process and the NCA anniversary in Thailand’s Chiang Mai on Monday and Tuesday.
After separate meeting with government representatives in Naypyitaw on Tuesday, PPST spokesperson Khun Myint Tun told reporters: “Our delegation led by patron Col Khun Okkar and the government delegation concluded discussions in Naypyitaw this morning. At the meeting we proposed inviting the Northern Alliance [FPNCC] and the UNFC [to the anniversary]. And the government accepted our proposal.”
Eight ethnic armed groups and the U Thein Sein government signed the NCA on Oct. 15, 2015. The government has planned a national-level event in the administrative capital to mark the anniversary.
According to NCA-signatory sources, delegates of NCA non-signatories are likely to hold separate peace talks with State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar Army Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, if they attend the NCA anniversary event.
Eight NCA signatories will each send an 11-member delegation to the event and KNU chairman Gen Mutu Sae Poe is set to address the ceremony and reaffirm the KNU’s dedication to the government’s NCA path to internal peace.
The eight ethnic armed groups that signed the NCA are: the KNU, the CNF, the APL, the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF), the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army (Peace Council) (KNU/KNLA PC), the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), and the Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO).
The FPNCC comprises of UWSA, Kachin Independence Army (KIA), National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), Shan State Progressive Party (SSPP), Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), and Arakan Army (AA).
The Myanmar Army has repeatedly said it would not hold peace talks with the MNDAA, TNLA and AA because they came to existence only after emergence of a democratic government, in contrast to other long-established ethnic armed groups.
The UNFC is comprised of the New Mon State Party (NMSP), Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), Lahu Democratic Union (LDU) and Arakan National Council (ANC).