New Mon State Party Likely to Sign NCA

By Lawi Weng 22 March 2017

RANGOON — The New Mon State Party (NMSP) is likely to sign the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) despite waning enthusiasm for the agreement in the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), of which the NMSP is a member.

“We are considering whether to sign the NCA and are collecting ideas from [local] people,” said NMSP spokesperson Nai Win Hla after a meeting between NMSP members and community leaders, including Buddhist monks, in the Mon State capital Moulmein (Mawlamyine) on Wednesday.

He said the NMSP would continue to stand together with other ethnic armed groups to move forward with political negotiations with the central government in order to solve conflict. The Burma Army has long pressured the NMSP to sign the NCA.

The UNFC, however, is divided on the NCA: armed groups in the north of Burma, including the Kachin Independence Army, the Shan State Army-North, and the Northern Alliance, have denounced the agreement; while the NMSP and Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) further south have made steps towards signing.

The UNFC’s Delegation for Political Negotiation previously issued a nine-point proposal, including eight demands, which, when met, would lead to the ninth point—the signing of the NCA.

In February, the United Wa State Army (UWSA) led a call to shun the NCA after hosting a three-day meeting of seven ethnic armed groups in Panghsang, capital of the Wa region in eastern Shan State.

The UWSA instead put itself forward to head a political team tasked with negotiating with the central government directly, outside of the NCA framework.

The NMSP also relies on good relations with larger ethnic armed group neighbor the Karen National Union, which signed the NCA in October 2015.