Northern Alliance Appeals for Chinese Cooperation in Peace Process

By Nyein Nyein 24 August 2017

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — After a six-day meeting, the ethnic armed alliance the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC) appealed for more Chinese cooperation for the achievement of Myanmar’s peace process.

In Panghsang, the capital of the Wa Self-Administered Zone in northern Shan State, the United Wa State Army (UWSA)-led FPNCC gathered since last Friday for meetings. The bloc discussed principles to negotiate with the government, the 21st Century Panglong peace conference, the country’s political situation and collaboration among ethnic armed organizations.

U Nyi Rang, of UWSA’s Lashio liaison office, told The Irrawaddy that the six-day meeting had concluded on Thursday.

In a FPNCC statement released on Thursday, the bloc stated, “We appealed for more cooperation from the Republic of China to bring success to the peace process.”

It also stated that the group had elected Gen N’Ban La, the vice chairman of the Kachin Independence Organization, to become vice chairman no. 2 of the FPNCC. The current chairman is Bao Youxiang, the head of the UWSP/A.

“The FPNCC’s political negotiation policies and means were all approved and we maintain a collective political negotiation under the FPNCC title,” read the statement. It also said the bloc “would join the upcoming third session of the 21st Panglong peace conference if they were invited officially.”

Almost three months after showing up at the last peace conference in Naypyitaw in May, there have been no negotiations between the government and the northern alliance FPNCC, as the government – and particularly, the Myanmar Army – do not want to recognize its establishment.

FPNCC said they have also opened their door for political negotiations toward building a federal democratic Union which guarantees equality and self-determination for ethnic nationalities. The group also called for an immediate end to the Tatmadaw’s military offensives.

The government continues talks with the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), an ethnic alliance established more than six years ago. During a meeting earlier this month in Yangon, the two sides reached an understanding on half of the bloc’s eight principles which must precede the bloc’s signing of the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA).

The UNFC and FPNCC hold different positions regarding the peace process: the UNFC has pledged to sign the NCA once its demands are met, but the FPNCC called for the replacement of the NCA.

The FPNCC’s stance on the NCA and the peace process were shared with the government during the peace conference in May, on a trip arranged by China.

UNFC Head Visits Wa

Reportedly invited by the UWSA, a UNFC delegation led by Nai Hong Sar – the head of the UNFC – traveled to Panghsang on Monday.

Although the UNFC did not release any information about their confidential trip, Wa and Kokang news services covered the meeting.

According to the Kokang News (in Chinese) on Tuesday, the UNFC delegation said there were still many ways to cooperate with their northern counterparts, although the two sides seek different political paths to peace.

The UNFC appears to be upholding negotiations with the government even though there was speculation that the bloc would fall apart after key member and co-founder the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) left the alliance in June. Another member, the Wa National Organization also left the bloc in the same month, and is believed to have merged with the UWSA.

Four former UNFC members – the KIA, Ta’ang National Liberation Army, Kokang’s Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and Shan State Progress Party – are members of the FPNCC, joining the UWSA, Mongla’s National Democratic Alliance Army and Arakan Army. They all have been members since the northern alliance’s official inception in February. The Shan State Progress Party just sent its resignation letter to the UNFC two weeks ago.

The UNFC now comprises the New Mon State Party, Karenni National Progressive Party, Lahu Democratic Union and Arakan National Council.

Nai Hong Sar also visited the Wa region in April this year to maintain ties among the ethnic groups, regardless of geography.

Although UNFC members stood firm on their all-inclusion stance regarding the NCA and political dialogue process and boycotted last May’s peace conference, the FPNCC members joined the conference, with the support of Chinese officials.

In the meantime, Nai Hong Sar’s New Mon State Party (NMSP), of which he is the vice chairman, will meet with State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

NMSP representatives met with state government officials on Wednesday and central committee member Nai Win Hla told reporters that the group is trying to sign the NCA before the third session of the Panglong peace conference.

Until now, the four-member UNFC has acted as a bloc, but it remains unclear if it will continue as such or join the northern alliance.