Suu Kyi to Meet Wa and Mongla Armed Group Leaders

By Nyein Nyein 26 July 2016

RANGOON — State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi will meet leaders of the Wa and Mongla non-state armed groups in Naypyidaw on Friday to discuss their participation in the Union Peace Conference, slated for late August.

As the head of the National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC) and the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC), Suu Kyi has recently met with leaders of both signatory and non-signatory groups to the country’s 2015 nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA).

The upcoming Naypyidaw meeting is a continuation of government delegation talks with the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the Mongla Army which took place in late June, said Khin Zaw Oo. The former lieutenant general is the current secretary of the government’s Peace Commission and member of the sub-committee tasked with reaching out to NCA non-signatories regarding the Union Peace Conference.

“We invited them to meet our top leaders to build further relations,” said Khin Zaw Oo, adding that the meeting would give the groups a chance to “clarify anything we said,” in order to prove the government’s sincerity.

“We also invited them take part in the upcoming peace conference,” he said.

The Wa delegation will reportedly be led by Pao Yu Yi, a central committee member of the UWSA, and Sai Lin, chairman of the National Democratic Alliance Army-Eastern Shan State (NDAA-ESS), also known as the Mongla Army, named for the township that serves as a stronghold for the group.

Wa and Mongla leaders expressed a desire to speak with Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the Burma Army, during their trip to the capital, but such a meeting has not yet been confirmed.

The UWSA and Mongla Army refused to sign the NCA in October 2015, saying that since they had already agreed to bilateral ceasefires with the Burmese government in 1989, they did not require a new pact, pointing out that neither group was engaged in active conflict with government armed forces. They said that they supported the peace process and would only participate in upcoming political dialogue.

“They are interested in the political dialogue, and shared their views on participating in the dialogue rather than signing the NCA, but we explained that the situation had changed,” said Khin Zaw Oo. “Before, it was only a ceasefire. Now the nationwide ceasefire is followed by the political dialogue.”

Given self-administration under the 2008 Constitution, the UWSA’s area is known as the Wa Special Region 2 and the Mongla Army’s is referred to as Special Region 4.