A Mon ethnic armed group and the Tatmadaw met on February 16 in an attempt to defuse tensions sparked by the Mon group’s unsanctioned staging of an armed parade at an anniversary event.
The New Mon State Party (NMSP) and members of the Tatmadaw’s Southeast Regional Command gathered on February 16 in Mon State’s capital Mawlamyine, formerly known as Moulmein Capital.
“At the meeting, we agreed to resolve whatever is not yet resolved between the two sides as soon as possible. Based on the current situation, we will meet again,” said Nai Win Hla, Chief of the NMSP’s Home Affairs Department.
The issue relates to the NMSP, a non-signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, holding an armed parade at the 70th anniversary of Mon National Day at an event near the Three Pagodas Pass on the Thai-Myanmar border despite objections voiced by the Mon State Minister of Security and Border Affairs.
Two days after the NMSP’s armed parade on February 12, Tatmadaw troops reportedly seized the NMSP’s two toll checkpoints along the Three Pagodas Pass highway. The Tatmadaw also informed the NMSP’s office in Three Pagodas Pass that the NMSP’s gate in Japan Well Village would also be seized. On the same day, Tatmadaw troops and police officers reportedly conducted a search of the NMSP’s liaison office in Ye township, without advanced notice.
On February 16, in addition to the Tatmadaw and the NMSP Mawlamyine meeting, several representatives of both sides also met in Three Pagodas Pass. The battalion commander of the Tatmadaw’s Light Infantry Battalion Number 284, NMSP officials based in Three Pagodas Pass, officials from the Mon Literature and Culture Association and local residents attended the discussion.
“At the meeting, after the battalion commander gave his opening speech, he suggested that we talk. I explained to the NMSP’s officials that he warned against any clashes erupting, and said that the Tatmadaw wants the NMSP to sign the NCA and to join the [21st-Century] Panglong Conference. He added that what he discussed also represents what the state counsellor would like us [the NMSP] to do,” said Banyar Aung Moe, a former Amyotha Hluttaw representative and a resident of the Three Pagodas Pass area.
Banyar Aung Moe added that at the meeting, the battalion commander mainly wanted to discuss the NMSP’s inking of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement and joining the Union peace conference, rather than focusing on the current tensions between the Tatmadaw and the NMSP.
The Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee has said that it will invite the United Nationalities Federation Council – an alliance of ethnic armed groups – as special guests to the second 21st-Century Panglong Conference, which has been delayed from the end of this month until March.
However, the NMSP, which is a member of the UNFC, stated at its recent 70th anniversary Mon National Day event that it will not participate in the peace conference unless it is allowed to present a paper and be involved in discussions at the conference.
Translated & Edited by BNI (Original source: https://goo.gl/PBIUYL )