UNFC Will Not Sign Ceasefire Unless All Members Included

By Kyaw Kha 1 August 2016

The United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), a nine-member ethnic alliance that opted out of signing the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) with the previous government, said it would not sign the agreement unless all of the member groups were permitted to join.

UNFC leaders reiterated their all-inclusive policy on Friday, the fourth day of the Mai Ja Yang ethnic summit in Kachin State.

“We have adopted a stance that UNFC members will only sign the NCA if all groups can sign,” said Nai Hong Sar, vice chair of the UNFC.

Ethnic leaders said on Friday they were not yet clear on whether the new government wanted them to sign the NCA before or after the upcoming Union Peace Conference.

Burma’s military has officially stated that it would not allow the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), or the Arakan Army (AA) to sign the agreement unless the three groups officially released a statement saying that they would disarm.

“[The Burma Army] wants us to renounce our beliefs and apologize to them and the people for waging a wrongful war. This is virtually impossible for us,” said Brig Gen Tun Myat Naing, AA chief of staff.

“We are fighting for our beliefs, without earning any money. Asking us to give up something that we value more than our lives makes us think that they are intentionally banning us to impede the NCA,” he said.

The three allied groups are interested and prepared to join the political dialogue, but they have not received a concrete offer from the government, and the peace conference is drawing near. However, the groups have sent a message to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi about finding a positive solution, Tun Myat Naing added.

Of the three groups, only the AA attended the Mai Ja Yang summit. The TNLA and MNDAA were absent.

“Without the inclusion of all of the ethnic groups, the peace process is meaningless and nationwide peace will not be possible. Therefore, we do not accept the exclusion of certain groups. We are all ready to take part if we can all sign and attend the peace conference without restriction,” said Nai Hong Sar.

The UNFC also has plans to meet with the United Wa State Army (UWSA), the largest non-state armed group in Burma, to discuss the inclusion of the AA, MNDAA and TNLA in the peace process.

The Mai Ja Yang summit concluded on Saturday, with an agreement to continue searching for common ground with the government and NCA signatories.