Peace Commission and Northern Alliance Hold Positive Peace Talks

By Kyaw Kha 1 July 2019

MONGLA SPECIAL REGION 4, Shan State—The government’s Peace Commission and representatives of the four-member Northern Alliance held formal discussions at the headquarters of Mongla’s National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) in eastern Shan State on Sunday.

The talks between the government and the northern-allied ethnic armed organizations (EAOs)—the Kachin Independence Army, the Ta’ang Nationalities Liberation Army, the Arakan Army (AA) and Kokang’s Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army—had been postponed for two months over disputes on the location of the meeting. Their last meeting was held on April 30 in Muse, northern Shan State.

The NDAA got involved as negotiators in order to settle the location dispute and get the talks restarted.

U Khin Zaw Oo, former military lieutenant-general and current secretary of the Peace Commission told reporters after the meeting that, “generally speaking, today’s discussion was good.”

The Arakan Army’s deputy chief Nyo Twan Aung (right) is seen after the talks between the government’s Peace Commission and the Northern Alliance in Mongla, eastern Shan State on June 30, 2019. / Zaw Zaw / The Irrawaddy

“We shared a draft text of a bilateral ceasefire agreement proposal with the groups,” he said.

The Northern Alliance shared their own draft at the previous meeting in April.

“We (the government) negotiated their draft and we brought back the draft text to share with them,” U Khine Zaw Oo said.

But he declined to reveal what principles are in the text.

As it is just a draft, he said, they are not publicizing it yet. They have also requested that the Northern Alliance EAOs not share it publicly either.

“The draft texts are not yet thoroughly negotiated so it is not appropriate to publicize what is in the text,” U Khin Zaw Oo told reporters.

Sunday’s talks played an important role in the extension of the military’s unilateral ceasefire in five military commands in northern Shan and Kachin states. It was announced on the same day that the ceasefire, due to expire on Sunday, would be extended to the end of August.

The AA urged that the truce should also cover Rakhine State.

Nyo Twan Aung, deputy chief of the AA, declined to comment on their discussion.

Phone Win Naing, spokesperson of the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army said the meeting was “good.”

“We focused on our previous discussion points in order to move forward,” he said.

The military extended the first truce period to include May and June and on Sunday it was announced that the additional two months would be added. During the ceasefire, the Peace Commission and the Northern Alliance were only able to meet once, thus U Khin Zaw Oo said they proposed to meet again within the next month.