UWSA Still Open to Joining NCA in Exchange for Right to Quit, Alter Pact

By Chit Min Htun 9 August 2018

YANGON—The United Wa State Army (UWSA) would consider signing the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) if the government and Myanmar’s military (Tatmadaw) gave the group a written promise that it would have the right to seek changes to and/or resign from the agreement, a UWSA official said.

“We said it clearly at the third session of the 21st-Century Panglong [Peace Conference]. We would consider it if [the government and Tatmadaw] made a written promise,” Nyi Rang told The Irrawaddy.

A UWSA delegation met State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar Army chief Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing on the sidelines of the conference in Naypyitaw in the second week of July.

Government spokesperson U Zaw Htay said that while the NCA does not explicitly address the issue of leaving the agreement, under Section 27, signatories and the government can negotiate issues not covered by the agreement.

Ethnic affairs analyst U Maung Maung Soe urged the UWSA and the government’s Peace Commission to hold talks on the issue.

“U Zaw Htay said the signatories and the government can negotiate issues that are not covered by the NCA. So, [the peace commission] should hold formal talks with the UWSA,” he told The Irrawaddy.

Nyi Rang said the UWSA and the Peace Commission are arranging a date for talks. UWSA and Tatmadaw leaders have agreed on the need for more frequent talks between two sides, he added.

“The two sides need to build trust, so they need to meet more around the table. The lack of such meetings can only harm the country,” Nyi Rang said.

However, a government official said on condition of anonymity that the Tatmadaw is unlikely to make such a written promise because it would set a precedent for other signatories.

U Maung Maung Soe agreed, saying, “Whenever a disagreement arises, any member could resign, not only the UWSA. I don’t even know if [the government and Tatmadaw] need to make such promise. There will be disputes whenever there are disagreements. And there will be resignations. It isn’t necessary to make such promise.”

The UWSA and the Peace Commission are likely to meet in August or September under China’s meditation, U Maung Maung Soe said.

The UWSA signed a truce with the then military government in 1989. In 2011, during then-President U Thein Sein’s administration, it signed state- and Union-level ceasefires.