As the Wa continue to push fellow ethnic armed groups to abandon the nationwide ceasefire agreement and start negotiations anew, the movement has encountered resistance in Mon State.
The New Mon State Party (NMSP), appears to be backing the current peace process, including the besieged NCA, to which it is not yet a signatory.
The NMSP appears to have broken rank with the other members of the United Nationalities Federal Council, a powerful bloc of ethnic armed organizations, and on March 22 announced plans to try and build support for the NCA.
“Some members of the UNFC will not sign the NCA. They will stand on their own. But we will urge the other, remaining members to sign the NCA,” said Nai Win Hla, the NMSP spokesperson and an officer of the NMSP’s Home Affair Department.
The NCA was signed by only eight of the more than 17 ethnic armed organizations in 2015. Confidence in the agreement has only continued to wane amid escalating hostilities in Kachin and northern Shan states. Groups engaged in the conflict in the north, including the Kachin Independence Army, the Shan State Army-North and the Northern Alliance, have rejected the NCA, while the UNFC has put out a nine-point agenda outlining preconditions before its members are willing to ink the agreement.
But two UNFC members in the south – the NMSP and the Karenni National Progressive Party – have recently shown more of an inclination to sign the pact.
“We already signed state level and Union level ceasefire agreements with the government in 2012 in order to keep the peace negotiations [moving] toward political talks,” said Nai Win Hla.
His remarks were made at a meeting in Mawlamyine with community leaders, monks, politicians and representatives from Mon State civil society organizations and women’s groups. At the meeting, members of the NMSP said solicited opinion over whether it should sign the NCA. If it does sign the agreement, it would become the first group to do so under the National League for Democracy-led government.
The government has set the agreement as the entry point for participation in Union peace talks, dubbed the 21st-century Panglong Conferences. Those who have not signed have been told they cannot attend. But the second conference to be held by the NLD, and the third Union peace talk, has been twice delayed.
“It would create difficulties for the Mon people if the NMSP does not sign the NCA and so is not involved in political talks,” said Min Aung Htoo, a member of a Mon State CSO. He added that on the other hand, there could be a windfall of benefits for the Mon people should the NMSP does decide to sign.
This article is originally translated and edited by BNI: www.bnionline.net/