Ethnic Issues

Myanmar’s Civilian Government Woos EAOs After Failed Junta Peace Talks

By The Irrawaddy 8 February 2023

Myanmar’s parallel National Unity Government (NUG) has reached out to two powerful ethnic revolutionary organizations, after they failed to achieve their political aims from sham peace talks with the military regime.

The NUG approached the Shan State Progress Party (SSPP), the political wing of the Shan State Army-North, and the New Mon State Party (NMSP), the political wing of the Mon National Liberation Army, to cooperate with them in building a federal union, after the two organizations said that they will join hands with those organizations and ethnic groups who want a federal union.

Both the SSPP and NMSP joined the regime’s peace talks that were boycotted by other major ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) for being a fraud and not inclusive.

In a statement on Tuesday, the NUG’s Acting President Duwa Lashi La said: “We [NUG] are also welcoming them [SSPP and NMSP] to join hands for the country and in building the federal union.”

He added: “The unity of organizations [different revolutionary groups] is a force in uprooting the terrorist military junta. We need to build unity and organized and practical coordination with each other.”

The NUG President also urged his cabinet to prioritize ethnic affairs and the forming of partnerships with ethnic forces.

“Now, it is a good time to rebuild the trust with the ethnic people that has been broken by the military dictatorship and their racism, as well as to topple the dictatorship,” said Duwa Lashi La.

Tensions are currently running high between the SSPP and the junta, despite the fact that coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing met SSPP leaders twice for sham peace talks.

The SSPP issued a statement on February 2 following their annual meeting saying that building a federal union that can guarantee equality and self-autonomy is the main way to build unity and sustainable peace in the country. For that reason, the SSPP will coordinate with those groups which want a federal union and democracy.

On Sunday, the NMSP said in a statement marking the 76th Anniversary of Mon National Day that achieving the goal of ethnic rights is still far away, as the military regime is firmly adhering to the army-drafted 2008 constitution, despite their talks with the junta.

The NMSP said also that holding peace talks with only EAOs is not enough now, as the political crisis has entered a new era and new organizations are emerging across the country. The group added that any effort to hold a general election in the present crisis will only lead to more bloody conflicts.

The NMSP also vowed to join the fight in various ways to build their own future and will join with ethnic people in the same situation.

The NMSP was founded in 1958 and signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement in 2018.

Despite objections by ethnic Mon rights groups, the NMSP also met twice with the junta chief for sham peace talks.

Currently, the Myanmar military is facing near-daily attacks from People’s Defense Forces, the armed wing of the NUG, and allied EAOs across the country.