The Irrawaddy

Northern Alliance Members Arrive in Naypyidaw for Peace Conference

Ethnic delegates attend the 21st Century Panglong Conference, which began on September 2 ,2016 in Naypyidaw. Photo - Pyay Kyaw / The Irrawaddy

RANGOON — Following Chinese special envoy Sun Guoxiang’s meeting with Burma’s State Counselor and the army chief on Monday, the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) arrived in Naypyidaw to join the second 21st Century Panglong peace conference on Tuesday at noon.

The United Wa State Army (UWSA) delegation will arrive later on Tuesday, a source close to the ethnic armed organization told The Irrawaddy.

Prior to the second Panglong Peace Conference that will begin on Wednesday, Burma’s State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the Military Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing met on Tuesday morning in Naypyidaw to discuss peace issues.

Following a Burma Army green light, seven ethnic armed organizations from northeast Burma: the United Wa State Army; National Democratic Alliance Army; Shan State Progress Party; Kachin Independence Army; Ta’ang National Liberation Army; Arakan Army; and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, flew to Naypyidaw from Kunming, China on Tuesday afternoon for the peace conference, according to sources close to the government and the ethnic armed groups.

According to the sources, the Northern Alliance groups have requested that the government allow them to participate in discussions and exchange views during the conference and to guarantee the security of the groups.

But the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) has not yet confirmed their attendance, as they are still holding a meeting on Tuesday. Negotiations are ongoing, but it is likely that UNFC members: the New Mon State Party; Karenni National Progressive Party; Arakan National Council; Wa National Organization; Lahu Democratic Union; Kachin Independence Organization; and Shan State Progress Party, will send their delegation for political negotiation to the peace conference.

At the last minute, the government decided to invite all ethnic armed groups under “observer” status. It is not clear yet whether the groups plan to attend only the opening or the full conference.

The government initially invited nine ethnic armed organizations as “special guests,” but decided to invite the Arakan Army, Ta’ang National Liberation Army and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army under the same status on short notice.

At the time of publication, the TNLA had confirmed their attendance in a statement released by the group.

CORRECTION: This article previously erroneously stated that all seven members of the Northern Alliance arrived in Naypyidaw.