NMSP Eyes Signing NCA Before Third Panglong Conference

By Hintharnee 23 August 2017

MAWLAMYINE, Mon State — The New Mon State Party (NMSP) will consider signing the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) before the third session of the Union Peace Conference, said an NMSP official.

The NCA dictates that only signatories can send delegations to the conference— also known as the 21st Century Panglong peace conference—and take part in discussions.

“We’ve always said that we’d sign the NCA. We’re trying to sign it before the third session of 21st Century Panglong so that we can participate in the meeting,” Nai Win Hla, head of NMSP internal affairs, told press after a meeting between an NMSP delegation led by its joint secretary Nai Kyaw Ye and the Mon State government on Wednesday.

Mon State chief minister Dr. Aye Zan, who led the government delegation at the meeting, told press that the NMSP asked his government to wait for three months, as the ethnic armed group is “persuading other members” of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) to sign the agreement.

“They said they would give a clear answer in three months whether other members agree to sign it or not,” he said.
The NMSP and Mon State authorities have met three times since the National League for Democracy (NLD) took office, but in the latest meeting the two sides agreed to meet monthly.

The NMSP also called for the Mon language to be included on the state school curriculum and questioned the deployment of Myanmar Army troops in Mawlamyine District. The chief minister said both of those issues are directly related to the NCA and the peace process.

Ko Min Zayar Oo, a member of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee’s secretarial body, suggested that the NMSP is likely to sign the NCA on October 15—the second anniversary of the signing of the NCA between U Thein Sein’s government and eight armed groups. The Union Peace Conference is expected some time between October and December.

The NMSP declared in May that it was trying to sign the NCA together with its fellow UNFC members, including the Arakan National Council (ANC), Lahu Democratic Union (LDU), and Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP).

The government has required armed groups to sign a nine-point Deed of Commitment (DoC) before signing the NCA. The NMSP has reached agreement with the government over four points and is still discussing the remaining five.

Mon State border and security affairs minister Col Win Naing Oo is optimistic that the NMSP will sign the NCA because it participated in drafting the agreement.

“The NCA book is kept open at the peace committee office. Since the time of President U Thein Sein, ethnic armed groups have been invited to sign it anytime. If you can’t sign it now, you can sign it later. The book is kept ready,” he said.

There are many gaps in cooperation between the Mon State government and NMSP in the areas of regional development and rule of law because the NMSP has not yet signed the agreement, he added.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.