RANGOON — The government has remained open to meeting with United Wa State Party/Army (UWSP/UWSA) chairman Bao Youxiang but it is unclear when it will occur, as there is so far no response from the party.
Rumors have circulated about a meeting between the State Counselor and Wa leaders, but a government spokesperson said a further invitation has not been extended this year.
The invitation the government peace commission sent to Bao Yuoxiang when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi met with Wa and Mongla delegations in July 2016 still stands, said President’s Office spokesperson U Zaw Htay.
He said the National League for Democracy government has opened negotiation channels and invited ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) to join the 21st Century Panglong peace conference.
State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has urged the EAOs, which are non-signatories of the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA), to sign “courageously” and take part in the upcoming peace conference.
The date for the conference is not yet set despite government plans to hold one every six months.
The government peace commission on March 4 met with the United Nationalities Federal Council’s (UNFC) Delegation for Political Negotiation (DPN) in Rangoon, where they discussed details of a DPN proposal citing issues it wanted resolved prior to signing the NCA.
U Zaw Htay said it was an “optimistic” discussion with the UNFC delegation and that “both sides hoped to move forward.”
The State Counselor also met the DPN on March 1 in Naypyidaw, which UNFC members said was a success.
However, a new political coalition led by the UWSP emerged last week after a summit of EAOs in Panghsang, where there is ongoing conflict. The summit issued a statement that criticized the current NCA and suggested replacing it.
“We don’t know how they will proceed following the summit,” said U Zaw Htay, adding that issues in the Wa Self-Administered Division are important, not only for Shan State but for the entire country.
The Panghsang statement dated Feb. 25 said the EAOs agreed to form a political dialogue committee with Bao Youxiang as the chair along with eight vice chairman.
The statement said there would be representatives on the committee from the UWSA, Mongla Army, Kachin Independence Organization, Shan State Progress Party, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, Ta’ang Nationalities Liberation Army, Arakan Army, New Mon State Party and Karenni National Progressive Party, despite the latter two organizations being unable to join the summit.
It is unclear whether all of the participants at the Panghsang summit agreed to the statement and The Irrawaddy could not get further comment regarding any dissent.
KIO spokesperson Naw Bu told The Irrawaddy on Monday that its representatives have not yet been briefed on the summit so the results are unclear, even though a week has passed since it took place.