RCSS/SSA-S National-level Political Dialogue at a Standstill

By Htet Naing Zaw 25 April 2017

NAYPYIDAW — The Burma government and the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army-South (RCSS/SSA-S) have not yet reached an agreement on the venue for holding ethnic-based national-level dialogue in Shan State.

“We’ve asked to hold the Shan political dialogue in Taunggyi or Panglong but we are still unable to agree on a venue,” said RCSS/SSA-S spokesperson Col Sai La.

RCSS/SSA-S leaders discussed the issue at a Joint Implementation Coordination Meeting (JICM) on Monday, but government authorities only replied that they would consider it, said Col Sai La.

The RCSS/SSA-S has requested that the dialogue be held in the state capital for convenience of transportation, but it was reported that the Burma Army told the RCSS to conduct the public consultations in remote RCSS-controlled towns.

The national-level political dialogue is a mandatory step of the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA), where regional stakeholders discuss suggestions at large-scale public consultations, the results of which are shared by representatives at the Union Peace Conference.

The RCSS/SSA-S has proposed holding national-level political talks for respective ethnic groups in Shan State, as opposed to dividing the talks by region.

“We don’t object to holding talks in respective regions but I’m afraid that such talks will not be complete, as they will not take into account the views of various sub-groups,” said Col Sai La.

The RCSS/SSA-S is one of eight signatories of the NCA. The others are the Karen National Union, Chin National Front, Pa-O National Liberation Organization, Arakan Liberation Party, All Burma Students’ Democratic Front, Democratic Karen Benevolent Army, and the KNU/KNLA Peace Council.

Ongoing territory disputes between the Burma Army and the RCSS/SSA-S also remain unsolved, adding to the Burma Army’s reluctance to allow the RCSS to hold ethnic-based political dialogue in Taunggyi.

The JICM on Monday brought no resolution, leaving the issue at a standstill.

Of eight ethnic NCA signatories, only the RCSS/SSA-S and Arakan Liberation Party have not yet held national-level political talks.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko