The Irrawaddy

Naga Armed Group Holds Rare Meeting with Govt

YANGON — The National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) held a rare meeting with the government’s Peace Commission in Yangon on Thursday in a bid to improve relations on the road to an eventual peace deal.

The NSCN-K is one of 21 ethnic armed groups in official talks with the government to reach a lasting peace. Though the ethnic Naga group signed a ceasefire deal with the Sagaing Region government in 2012, it has yet to join the broader Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).

The NSCN-K last met with the Peace Commission more than a year ago and joined Thursday’s meeting to improve relations with the new government’s negotiators. U Kyaw Wan Sein, one of the NSCN-K’s five delegates at the meeting, said the talks went well, in part because the government’s negotiators included some familiar faces from prior meeting.

The Peace Commission is chaired by Tin Myo Win.

“We met with the [Peace Commission] because we want to have stability in our region. As long as we have a constant relationship, we can build more trust,” U Kyaw Wan Sein said.

He told The Irrawaddy that they discussed the need to achieve and maintain peace in contested areas during their one-hour meeting but did not talk about development or the NCA specifically.

The Peace Commission’s U Aung Soe said the commission urged the NSCN-K to attend the next session of the 21st Century Panglong peace conference set for late January.

“There was no specific demand [from the NSCN-K]. We invited them to join the peace conference,” U Aung Soe said. “We talked about coordinating to address issues relating to the lack of development in the region.”

The Naga are one of six ethnic groups granted self-administered areas under the 2008 Constitution and have representatives in the local parliaments. U Aung Soe said the commission would hold additional talks on developing parts of Sagaing with the Naga lawmakers.

Based along Myanmar’s border with India, the NSCN-K wants any agreement with the government of Myanmar to cover ethnic Naga living in India. A splinter group, the NSCN-M, has been holding separate peace talks with the government of Indian.

“We have told the media many times that because Naga live in both countries we need political solutions to solve our issue,” U Kyaw Wan Sein said.

Naga living in Myanmar and India are known locally as eastern Naga and western Naga, respectively. But U Kyaw Wan Sein said they consider both to belong to one Naga territory despite the international border diving them.

He said the NSCN-K was in talks with the government of Myanmar because it was invited.

“In India we used to have such talks, but it is not going well at the moment,” he said, blaming the plethora of Naga factions across the border, some of them currently fighting with the Indian army.