The Irrawaddy

UWSA Steadfast in Stance on NCA Amendments

United Wa State Army (UWSA) soldiers march during a display for the media in Pansang, Wa territory in north east Myanmar October 4, 2016. Picture taken October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun - RTSVK9G

The United Wa State Army (UWSA) remains steadfast in its stance that the current nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) needs to be amended regardless of Burma Army statements to the contrary.

The country’s most powerful ethnic armed group released a paper to the media at the start of the second session of the 21st Century Panglong peace conference on May 24 about its attempts to negotiate with the Burma Army regarding the NCA.

The UWSA sent a draft NCA to the Burma Army and the National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC) in March, following an ethnic summit hosted in Panghsang, the Wa administrative capital.

Wa sources say the Burma Army never responded to the draft.

Efforts to expand the current number of NCA signatories have faltered and conflict persists in the north, despite previous bilateral ceasefire agreements with some groups in the region.

The Wa did not participate in the initial drafting of the NCA as it had a longstanding ceasefire with the Burma Army and did not see the efficacy of signing the new agreement.

However, China has placed pressure on the group to accept the NCA and change its political stance, and the Wa sees stability in the region as a path to development.

“If there is no stability in northern Shan, development in the Wa region will be hindered. We call for a stop to fighting between ethnic armed groups and the Burma Army,” the statement said.

The Wa was discouraged by the lack of response to their NCA draft and the army’s public discourse on the issue.

Burma Army Vice Senior General Soe Win spoke to media in early May and stated, “Not even one word of the current NCA can be changed.”

The Wa statement said the army’s public statements had shamed them in the media.

“The Wa will not begin fighting easily. We have already expressed our wishes for peace. But if you ignore our wishes, we will have nothing to say about fighting,” the statement said.

It continued that the army should have replied privately, as opposed to airing its disagreement publically, showing its disrespect for ethnic groups.

The Burma Army has also expressed its stance that the country only needs one army, which the Wa opposes based on Burma’s history.

The Wa paper added that this was a longstanding conflict that will be difficult to solve in a short time.