Mon State — The four ethnic armed groups of the Northern Alliance say they offered the Myanmar military a ceasefire during their first meeting with the government’s National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC) in Yunnan Province, China, on Monday.
The groups — the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Arakan Army (AA), and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) — proposed a bilateral ceasefire with the military, an offer the NRPC said it would relay to senior officials, said TNLA Maj. Tar Aike Kyaw, who joined the meeting.
“It was an informal talk. Each side proposed its ideas for the peace process, so there was no agreement. We told them that we will have a bilateral ceasefire first, then we will sign the NCA,” he said, referring to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.
“We asked them to sign a bilateral deal with our four armed groups at the same time and at the same place,” he said.
A source inside the Northern Alliance who asked to remain anonymous said the NRPC proposed that the four groups first make a stronger commitment to eventually singing the NCA.
The Northern Alliance and NRPC did agree to meet again in Yunnan next month.
Maj. Tar Aike Kyaw said the Northern Alliance would handle the talks on a bilateral ceasefire while talks on the NCA would be handled by its political wing, the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee.
In late December the military announced a unilateral ceasefire to last until the end of April in the north and east of Myanmar, where the Northern Alliance is mostly active, in hopes of convincing more armed groups to sing the NCA. That ceasefire does not cover Rakhine State, where the military is engaged in heavy fighting with the AA.
Ten armed groups have signed the NCA to date, but none are members of the Northern Alliance, which boasts some of the largest fighting forces in the country.