Military’s Draft Peace Deal Demands Retreat of Northern Alliance Troops

By Lawi Weng 1 July 2019

All ethnic armed group members of the Northern Alliance would be ordered by the Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, to return to their original bases as part of their proposed ceasefire agreement, a TNLA member has announced.

At peace talks held on the sidelines of an event on Sunday marking the 30th anniversary of the ceasefire  in Mongla Special Region 4 in eastern Shan State, members of the government’s Peace Commission handed the Tatmadaw’s draft of a bilateral ceasefire agreement to the Northern Alliance members.

The Northern Alliance is made up of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Arakan Army (AA) and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA).

Saying the draft is still under negotiation, the Peace Commission requested for its contents not to be shared. Despite this, Brig-Gen Tar Phone Kyaw from the TNLA shared some information about it on his Facebook page on Monday.

He claims the Tatmadaw’s draft ceasefire agreement demands for all troops of the Northern Alliance member groups to return to where they were originally based. This demand comes after years of these ethnic armed groups fighting to expand their territory across the area.

The TNLA originally was based in Namsan and Mongton townships in northern Shan State and over the past 10 years have expanded to control territory in a further eight townships, so if the agreement is put in place, they would need to step back again.

The MNDAA were based originally near Hong Ai in the Kokang Self-Administered Zone in northern Shan State, so they would have to withdraw their troops from all other areas.

The AA, who are currently clashing with the Tatmadaw in Rakhine State, would also have to call their troops back to their location of origin which would be Kachin State, if the Tatmadaw’s draft ceasefire agreement was implemented.

In his Facebook post, Brig-Gen Tar Phone Kyaw said he didn’t know about the KIA’s circumstances but thought it would likely be the same as the three other member groups.

The draft agreement also states that the Tatmadaw would withdraw battalions of troops from other parts of Myanmar that have been deployed to the frontlines once the bilateral deal could be agreed upon, keeping only small Tatmadaw outposts in the area.

“It is good to know the stance of the Myanmar government and Tatmadaw,” said Brig-Gen Tar Phone Kyaw, regarding the draft agreement.

The Northern Alliance was the first side to compile a draft bilateral ceasefire agreement, which they handed to the Tatmadaw at the last round of peace talks held in Muse, northern Shan State on April 30.

The Northern Alliance draft agreement called for a ceasefire to be put in place first and then for negotiations about troop settlement to take place. This remains the biggest difference between the drafts compiled by both sides

As for the political aspect of the Northern Alliance’s draft ceasefire agreement, they want their own political wing, the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC) to represent them in political matters. As for monitoring of the ceasefire conditions, representatives from both sides would take part.

In his Facebook post, Brig-Gen Tar Phone Kyaw questioned how the sides could come to an agreement on the ceasefire conditions if they disagree on such an important element of the draft agreement.

“So how can we negotiate to create the same one draft?” he wrote.

The Tatmadaw has extended a unilateral ceasefire across five regional commands in Kachin and Shan states for two more months, concluding on August 31. However, Rakhine State remains to be exempt from the ceasefire.

With almost 50,000 internally displaced there as a result of six months of fierce fighting between the Tatmadaw and the AA, the TNLA chairman Tar Aike Phone told the media in Mongla on Saturday, extending a ceasefire while excluding Rakhine State is not effective for peace negotiations.

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in effect since December 2018, fighting between the two sides has also continued to break out in northern Shan State, according to information released by the TNLA. Clashes have broken out in northern Shan State’s Kutkai, Kyaukme and Lashio townships, 20 times in total as of June, according to the TNLA’s figures.

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