RANGOON — The Northern Alliance urged that all ethnic armed groups and political parties be invited to attend the upcoming 21st Century Panglong conference without restriction, in a statement issued by the group.
The statement added that it would send a committee—known as the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee—to the peace conference if other groups were not left out.
Northern Alliance members—the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Arakan Army (AA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA)—recently met with the United Wa State Army (UWSA), Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) and National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) in Panghsang, the capital of the Wa Self-Administered Zone.
Representatives from each group agreed that if the government did not invite all of the groups, then none of them would attend.
The groups also asked the Burma Army to cease offensives in ethnic areas and to meet with their committee soon.
Sources from the government’s Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) said Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) non-signatories would be invited to join the Panglong conference as observers, and only after they signed a deed of commitment (DoC). Under this status, they would be unable to participate in discussions during the conference.
The Northern Alliance statement did not comment on whether it would join if it were invited under observer status.
Brig-Gen Tar Phone Kyaw, General Secretary of the TNLA and a member of the Northern Alliance, told The Irrawaddy: “If we do not have equal rights, we [the TNLA] will not attend.”
“If Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s government and the Tatmadaw [Burma Army] want peace in the country, they should have courage and let all ethnic armed groups attend the conference. There should be no restrictions. Otherwise, it will be difficult to build a Union,” he said.