Suu Kyi Pushes for Inclusion of NCA Non-Signatories in Peace Conference

By Saw Yan Naing & Htet Naing Zaw 5 July 2016

NAYPYIDAW & RANGOON — State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi has instructed government bodies to include ethnic armed groups that did not sign last year’s nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) in the upcoming Union Peace Conference.

Suu Kyi and peace negotiation teams met in Naypyidaw on Tuesday and agreed to hold the “21st Century Panglong Conference”—which is being compared to the 1947 conference by the same name that promised several of Burma’s major ethnicities autonomy and equal rights after independence from Britain—in late August.

Hla Maung Shwe, a member of the government’s peace conference preparatory sub-committee 2, told The Irrawaddy that the conference would be held in the capital of Naypyidaw because it is a national level conference.

“The first issue was to settle arrangements to hold the conference in August. The second is the include both NCA signatories and non-signatories. The government bodies are still discussing these arrangements,” said Hla Maung Shwe.

The exact date for the peace conference will be negotiated in early August by various stakeholders, including ethnic armed organizations and the Burma Army—which have both participated in the peace dialogue process leading up to the conference.

Suu Kyi and government officials will meet with NCA non-signatories in mid-July to hear their recommendations for the conference, said Hla Maung Shwe.

He added that Suu Kyi was not opposed to the holding of a separate summit of ethnic armed organizations in Kachin State’s conflict-torn Mai Ja Yang region in July; however, ethnic leaders will need to submit details and an agenda to the government.

A government delegation will also meet three ethnic armed groups—the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, the Arakan Army and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army—that were excluded from signing the NCA by the previous government.