Today, the Burmese ethnic ceasefire group New Mon State Party’s (NMSP) ceasefire agreement with the Burmese military junta completes 12 years.
Independent Mon News Agency journalist Loa Htaw interviewed the general secretary of NMSP, Nai Hong Sar the 12th anniversary of the ceasefire agreement. During the interview NMSP made it clear that the ceasefire is in a stalemate.
Loa Htaw: Could you please explain the current situation regarding the ceasefire?
Nai Hong Sar: The ceasefire is in a deadlock. The relationship between us and the junta is not good but there is still no serious pressure. It means both sides are trying to maintain the ceasefire agreement.
Loa Htaw: How long will the NMSP be able to maintain the ceasefire agreement given the stalemate?
Nai Hong Sar: We are not sure how long we will be able to maintain the ceasefire. It depends mainly on the government. We agreed to the ceasefire to solve political problems across the table. But the government only allowed expressing what we wanted to say in the National Convention (NC). In the first session of the NC we along with other ethnic ceasefire groups requested the government to change its laws included in the draft constitution of the NC and to guarantee clauses based on a federal system. But the government rejected our demands and since than we the NMSP stopped sending representatives to the NC and only attended as observers.
Loa Htaw: What is the potential of the ceasefire in the future?
Nai Hong Sar: After the government drafts the constitution based on NC decisions, it will hold a referendum and general elections. The government will then pressurize the ethnic national army’s to surrender or come under the control of the military government.
Loa Htaw: What are the choices in front of the NMSP given these options?
Nai Hong Sar: We have a clear policy not to allow elimination of our party, our national army, or to separate our national army from the party. On the other hand we do not like the manner in which the government is currently drafting the constitution. And we have to deliberate a lot on the ensuing elections. We have to keep observing what changes they will make to the constitution and how it benefits our people and ensures guarantees for us. We will decide then whether to involve ourselves in the election.
Loa Htaw: What else do you want to say about the 12 years of NMSP’s ceasefire agreement with the Burmese junta?
Nai Hong Sar: The ceasefire agreement in our country is very strange and different from other countries. In reality the government and ceasefire groups should have discussed and solved political problems soon after the agreement was made. It did not work out, because the ceasefire groups turned to fighting again. But we the ethnic ceasefire groups in Burma are very patient and have already been waiting for 12 years although we know it is not good for our people to wait too long.
However we do not want to lose opportunities to solve the problem politically and do not want to resort to use of arms again. The situation in the country has not improved and barely has the agreement been maintained.
No body benefits from the political crisis in the country but we are trying to maintain the ceasefire. It does not mean we have cancelled our political goals and objectives. We also want to tell our people that we are focused on our goals and objectives.