RCSS, Myanmar Army Agree to Avoid New Clashes

By Htet Naing Zaw 12 September 2017

NAYPYITAW — The Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army-South (RCSS/SSA-S), one of the signatory groups of the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA), and the Myanmar Army have reached an agreement to avoid further clashes between the two sides.

The RCSS/SSA-S delegation led by its chairman Gen Yawd Serk held separate talks with State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the deputy commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Army in Naypyitaw on Monday.

The meeting with military leaders focused on easing military tensions and rebuilding mutual understanding, according to Lt-Col Sai Mein of the RCSS/SSA-S.

“We agreed that clashes between the two sides impact civilians and that we should try harder to avoid them,” he told reporters in Naypyitaw.

“The two sides agree to cooperate in order to not burden the people,” he added.

Despite the RCSS/SSA-S’s signing of the NCA, there have been frequent skirmishes between the two sides. There were clashes in March, April and July this year, and joint ceasefire monitoring committees at the national and state levels have not been able to address the problem.

Fresh tensions arose between the Myanmar Army and the RCSS/SSA after a planned meeting of the Committee for Shan State Unity (CSSU) in Thailand’s Chiang Mai had to be canceled due to objections from the military attaché in the Myanmar Embassy in July.

The CSSU is a coalition of Shan political parties, civil society organizations and two armed groups—the RCSS/SSA-S and the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N).

“We were blocked by the military while the CSSU was trying to hold talks. That is like blocking the NCA path,” Lt-Col Sai Mein told reporters.

“We agreed [at Monday’s meeting] that dialogue is important to ease tensions and build mutual trust between us,” he said, adding that the meeting was “fruitful.”

The Monday meeting was the first between Gen Yawd Serk and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi since she assumed office.

The State Counselor’s Office issued a press release that the meeting at the National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC) focused on building understanding and trust in the NCA-based peace process, development, education, health and combating drugs in ethnic regions.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.