Four Ethnic Armed Groups Leave UNFC

By Kyaw Kha 3 July 2017

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — Four ethnic armed groups resigned from the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) at the council’s conference in Thailand’s Chiang Mai.

The UNFC accepted the resignation of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Wa National Organization (WNO), according to Khu Oo Reh, general secretary of the UNFC.

Khu Oo Reh told reporters on June 29—the final day of UNFC’s second conference—that the four groups would ally with the UNFC again if the circumstances called for it, and join the council’s future conferences as observers.

The KIO, TNLA, and MNDAA formed the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC), also referred to as the northern alliance, led by the United Wa State Army (UWSA) in April. The WNO merged with the UWSA in June before the UNFC conference.

KIO vice-chairman General N’Ban La said at the opening of the conference on June 20 the four groups withdrew because of the political situation.

“Local conditions and the military’s pressure and divisive rule are pushing armed groups in the northern area [of Myanmar] to stick together. That’s why we need to resign from the UNFC,” he told the conference.

There are five groups left in the UNFC—the New Mon State Party (NMSP); the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP); the Lahu Democratic Union (LDU); the Arakan National Council (ANC); and the Shan State Progressive Party (SSPP), which is also a member of the Wa-led FPNCC.

Nai Hong Sar of the NMSP, who was elected as the UNFC chairman during the conference, said the council is dedicated to continuing its negotiations with the government based on the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).

“It depends heavily on the government. If it gives us the room to maneuver on the NCA path, there will be a greater likelihood [of us signing it]. It is up to the government whether it would force us because the UNFC is weaker now,” Nai Hong Sar told The Irrawaddy.

The conference, which has been postponed in the past because of difficult military and political conditions, elected 24 council members including nine central executive members. Dr Khin Maung of the ANC was elected as the vice chair and Khu Oo Reh of the KNPP as the general secretary.