Government Peace Commission has a sent letter to the United Nationalities Federation Council (UNFC), a coalition of ethnic armed groups, requesting it to meet in order to have discussions for inking the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) and attend the 21st Century Panglong Conference, according to the Peace Commission’s Advisor U Hla Maung Shwe comments yesterday.
The Delegation for Political Negotiation (DPN), the negotiating body for the UNFC, had an informal meeting with the Peace Commission’s advisory team on January 13, in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand. At the meeting, both sides discussed the peace process.
“We had an informal meeting on January 13, in Chiang Mai. It was with the DPN. The Peace Commission sent a letter on January 26. It was informing them to have a meeting and talks in Yangon. Focusing the talks on signing the NCA and participating in the conference,” said U Hla Maung Shwe.
The UNFC held a central executive emergency meeting from January 23 to 25, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. At the meeting the group released a statement citing it would not attend the 21st Century Panglong Conference if it was only invited to participate as observers, but it would continue discussions on the NCA inking and peace talks as long as the government offers a way.
“Regarding this matter, we will discuss as the Peace Commission has directed. We will discuss as directed in the government’s policy. It is a leader-level decision on how they will be allowed to participate [in the conference], but we will try hard and do our best,” said U Hla Maung Shwe.
However, because the Shan State Hluttaw has called out the Northern Alliance as an ‘terrorist organization’, the Kachin Independent Army, a member of UNFC, will have difficulties travelling to the central Burma city and participate in the talks.
Giving many reasons, the Tatmadaw [Burma army] also called the Northern Alliance an ‘terrorist organization’ and has launched offensive attacks against the alliance. However, the Tatmadaw did so intentionally as a way of damaging the [potential] talks, according to the statement released by UNFC on January 27.
“If it’s to meet with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, we will go meet her regardless of whether it is in Nay Pyi Taw or Yangon. However, if it is to meet with the peace commission, we would like to meet them in Chiang Mai,” said Dr. Nai Shwe Thein, a member of DPN.
The UNFC’s members which have not signed the NCA yet are Kachin Independent Army (KIA), New Mon State Party (NMSP), Shan State Progressive Party/Shan State Army, Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), Arakan National Council (ANC), Wa National Organization (WNO), and Lahu Democratic Union (LDU).