CHIANG MAI, Thailand — The New Mon State Party (NMSP) wrapped up a three-day meeting on Wednesday to explain its reasons for signing the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in February and to gather public feedback.
The NMSP and Lahu Democratic Union signed the agreement at the same time, joining the original eight ethnic armed groups that joined the NCA in 2015.
More than 250 people joined the NMSP’s meeting this week in Ye Township, Mon State, including politicians, academics and civil society representatives.
Nai Ong MaNge, a member of the NMSP’s executive committee, told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that his party took recommendations from the participants and explained the NCA process, including how its political, social and military provisions would be carried out.
“People have different perceptions of what the NCA is. Some think it is just a political agreement. Others think it is just a military agreement,” he said. “We explained the NCA implementation process to the stakeholders, about the political dialogue and joint ceasefire monitoring.”
Last month the NMSP cancelled a public consultation for ethnic Mon in neighboring Karen State because the Myanmar army insisted that attendance had to be limited to 30 people. But Nai Ong MaNge said the NMSP can hold meetings of any size it wants in areas it controls in Mon State.
“The public consultations should be able to convene where our Mon people reside so that they can hear all of our concerns. But it is hard for us to say something because we don’t know exactly what deals they [the NMSP and government] made” before signing the NCA, said Nai Ong Mon, a civil society representative who attended the meeting.
He told The Irrawaddy that participants shared their thoughts on peace building, federalism and other issues concerning land and the economy.
The NMSP said it would hold a second, similar meeting in another NMSP-controlled part of Mon State on April 26 and 27.
Nai Ong MaNge said the party would then hold a national-level political dialogue in Ye on May 5-7, in preparation for the government-led 21st Century Panglong peace conference scheduled for later that month.