Ethnic Issues

Myanmar Junta Holding Talks With Leaders of Three Powerful Ethnic Armed Groups

By The Irrawaddy 24 March 2023

Myanmar’s military regime has been holding talks since Wednesday with three powerful ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) based in the north and northeast of the country, according to junta media.

Leaders of the United Wa State Army (UWSA), the Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) and the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) are meeting the junta’s National Solidarity and Peace Negotiation Committee, led by Lieutenant-General Yar Pyae, in the capital Naypyitaw.

On the agenda are regional development and stability in areas controlled by the three EAOs, the election proposed by the junta, the holding of a ‘peace conference’ between the regime and EAOs, and amending key provisions in the military-drafted 2008 Constitution, according to junta-controlled media.

The talks follow last week’s meeting between the UWSA, NDAA and China’s special envoy to Myanmar, Deng Xijun, in Kunming, China.

On March 15-16, the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC), which is made up of seven EAOs including the UWSA, NDAA and SSPP, met in Panghsang, the capital of Wa State, an autonomous enclave in Shan State run by the UWSA. The other FPNCC members are the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), Arakan Army (AA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

“We welcome and support China’s involvement to end the domestic conflicts in Myanmar,” the FPNCC said in a statement following the March 15-16 meeting, adding that it would “continue working together with China’s government to improve the stability of border areas.”

Deng has met FPNCC members three times since his appointment in December, as well as meeting junta chief Min Aung Hlaing twice. China’s envoy has been urging all FPNCC members to hold talks with the regime. So far, the MNDAA, AA, TNLA and KIA have rejected taking part in the junta’s peace talks.

Since his appointment, Deng has apparently succeeded in persuading EAOs not to fight the Myanmar military along the Myanmar-China frontier, which late last month enabled the regime to move around 3,000 troops based near the border in Shan State to reinforce its battalions fighting in central and southeastern Myanmar.