Govt, UNFC Still at Odds on Signing NCA

By Thu Thu Aung 10 August 2017

Government representatives expressed high hopes of reaching an agreement in peace discussions with the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) in Yangon on Thursday, despite UNFC representative Khu Oo Reh saying the trust-level between the parties was zero.

The comments were made in opening remarks at the sixth round of formal talks between the government Peace Commission and ethnic bloc the UNFC’s Delegation for Political Negotiation (DPN) at the National Reconciliation and Peace Center in Yangon.

An agreement to have UNFC members sign the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) would be reached at this round of talks after 14 months of negotiations, said Peace Commission chairman U Tin Myo Win in his opening remarks.

The Peace Commission and the UNFC discussed the DPN’s nine-point proposal of conditions leading to the bloc’s groups signing the NCA—one of which being that all five members of the UNFC are invited to sign.

U Tin Myo Win added that chairperson of the National Reconciliation and Peace Center State Counselor Daw Aung San Su Kyi had sent a message to say she strongly believed the talks could finalize the ethnic bloc signing the NCA and she hoped they could “walk forward towards peace” at the next stage of the 21st Century Panglong Union peace conference.

DPN leader and UNFC general secretary Khu Oo Reh, however, said in his opening remarks: “I feel like the essential trust level is still at zero after after 14 months of talks.”

The position of peace policy markers bore no reality to the situation on the ground, he added.

Active members of UNFC which will decide whether to sign after talks are: 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 Progress Party (SSPP).

Government spokesperson U Zaw Htay, who attended Thursday’s meeting, said that after heated discussions, the two parties were in a positon to reach an agreement.

Under discussion were the location of Myanmar Army outposts and the inclusion of international observers in the ceasefire monitoring.

Discussions will continue, and end, on Friday.

 In July, The Irrawaddy reported that four non-NCA signatory ethnic armed groups had resigned from the UNFC: 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).

Under the U Thein Sein administration, eight ethnic armed groups signed the NCA in October 2015.

The current National League for Democracy-led government held two rounds of peace conferences in August 2016 and May 2017. The next round is scheduled to take place within the next six months.