SSPP Likely to Sign Nationwide Ceasefire, Peace Broker Says

By Chit Min Htun 3 May 2018

YANGON — The Shan State Progressive Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N) is likely to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), according to a peace broker between the government and the SSPP.

The government’s Peace Commission and the SSPP met at the party’s Wan Hai headquarters in northern Shan State’s Kehsi Township for two days on May 1-2.

The government delegation was led by Peace Commission vice chairman U Thein Zaw, accompanied by its secretary, former Lieutenant-General Khin Zaw Oo. The SSPP was represented by vice chairman Lieutenant-General Khay Tai, the party’s patron General Sae Htin, Major-General Sai Htoo and Sao Khun Seng.

Shan Nationalities Development Party chairman Sai Aik Pao, who was present at the negotiations as a peace broker, told The Irrawaddy, “They [the SSPP] do not oppose the NCA, and they accept it. They said they would take the NCA path. So it is expected that they will sign the NCA. They will meet again, and plan to discuss the date.”

He said the level of trust between the two sides improved during the meeting, adding that the SSPP would consider joining the upcoming third session of the 21st-Century Panglong Peace Conference if the government invited it.

U Hla Maung Shwe, an adviser to the Peace Commission, said he had heard that “the talks were optimistic. The SSPP was invited to take part in political dialogue. And the talks indicate some development” in the peace process.

SSPP leaders could not be reached for comment on the talks.

The party entered bilateral ceasefire agreements at the state and union levels in 2012.

It was one of the ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) that contributed to the process of drafting the NCA and was a member of the United Nationalities Federal Council ethnic bloc, which is no longer an active alliance. It resigned from the bloc last year, but has stopped short of fully disavowing it.

The SSPP currently belongs to the seven-member Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee, a northeast-based armed alliance. The FPNCC, which rejected the NCA and has demanded an alternative path to it, has a policy of insisting on holding collective talks with the government. Despite the policy, however, two of its members — the Kachin Independence Army and the United Wa State Army — have met government delegations separately on previous occasions at the behest of Chinese officials.