Northern Alliance Demands Ceasefire Covers Rakhine State

By Lawi Weng 28 December 2018

If the Myanmar Army (or Tamadaw) do not stop fighting in Rakhine State, the Northern Alliance also will refuse to adhere to the ceasefire conditions in northern and northeastern Myanmar’s conflict zones, according to a statement released by the group on Thursday.

The Northern Alliance, a collective of four ethnic armed organizations—the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) the Arakan Army (AA) and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA)—released the statement following a meeting to discuss the ceasefire this week.

The statement comes amid ongoing conflict in northern Rakhine State between the Myanmar Army and the AA, and almost a week after the Army’s announcement of a four-month ceasefire in Myanmar’ Kachin and northern Shan states.

“They (Myanmar Army) are attacking only the AA now. If they cannot stop attacking them, it is not practical for us to hold peace negotiations with Myanmar Army,” Northern Alliance spokesperson, TNLA’s Brig-Gen Tar Phone Kyaw, told The Irrawaddy on Friday,

“If the Myanmar Army cannot stop their fighting, our side (the Northern Alliance) have to fight too. It will be difficult for us to stop fighting,” he said.

The Northern Alliance members initially welcomed the Myanmar Army’s ceasefire announcement as a step in furthering peace negotiations. However, the Northern Alliance said that considering the short period and limited area the ceasefire applies to, it will be difficult to work on peace negotiations and thus the group has asked the Myanmar Army to declare a nationwide ceasefire.

The Northern Alliance will continue to follow their former stance and meet as an alliance, not as individual groups, and this is the best way to make progress in peace negotiations, according to Brig-Gen Tar Phone Kyaw.

His comments come one week after the Myanmar Army’s Dec. 21 announcement which stated their intentions to engage in peace negotiations during the ceasefire with individual armed groups in their respective areas, and not with the alliance.

The Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC) will act as a political wing of the group, but the Northern Alliance is the armed wing which remains to be in conflict with the Myanmar Army. The Army needs to first deal with the Northern Alliance before approaching the FPNCC for discussions, according to Brig-Gen Tar Phone Kyaw.

Accusation flew just three days into the ceasefire period when the TNLA said the Myanmar Army launched an attack on their forces in Kutkai, northern Shan State on Dec. 24—a claim which the Myanmar Army has strongly denied.

With troops remaining in place on the ground in ethnic areas, fighting could break out anytime should the Myanmar Army come to attack ethnic armed groups, said Tar Phone Kyaw.