UNFC to Meet Govt in Naypyidaw on Saturday

By Nyein Nyein 13 October 2016

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — The ethnic armed alliance the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) will meet with government peace negotiators in Naypyidaw on Saturday, where demands for a cessation of Burma Army hostilities will be discussed.

Saturday will mark the one-year anniversary of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), which member groups of the UNFC did not sign.

The UNFC held a meeting at its headquarters of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand on Thursday, in preparation for the Naypyidaw meeting.

Nai Hong Sar, vice chair of UNFC, said their delegates would “reiterate our eight demands,” which include for a comprehensive ceasefire to be announced by the Burmese government, and for international monitoring of a ceasefire.

UNFC delegates raised these demands in an earlier meeting with State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon in July.

Nai Hong Sar told The Irrawaddy that the Naypyidaw meeting was intended to “build understanding.”

Describing the need for international observers to monitor any ceasefire agreement, he mentioned how clashes had even erupted between the Burma Army and an NCA signatory, the Restoration Council of Shan State, earlier this month. He also cited recent Burma Army offensives in Karen State, an area supposedly covered by the NCA.

Despite the staging of the “21st Century Panglong” peace conference in late August and early September, Burma Army offensives—with air strikes and artillery shelling—have stepped up in recent weeks against the Kachin Independence Army, a member organization of the UNFC.

Although UNFC members attended the peace conference, they did not take part in the political dialogue framework review session that followed in September.

The government’s National Reconciliation and Peace Center in Rangoon will host the next session for reviewing the framework—which will set the shape and terms for political dialogue over a federal restructuring of the state—on Tuesday of next week. A UNFC delegation is expected to join this time.