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Ethnic bloc says state counsellor’s NCA announcement was premature

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State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s March 30 announcement that five ethnic armed groups plan to soon join the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement appears to have taken at least one organization by surprise.

The announcement, made on the anniversary of the National League for Democracy’s first year in office, said the United Nationalities Federal Council – an ethnic alliance – supports the ceasefire, with five members newly committed to signing the peace accord. These five groups would be the first to join the NCA under the NLD-led government’s tenure, a major achievement for the administration amid what many have called a stalled peace process.

March 30's announcement (copy)
March 30’s announcement (copy)

But the New Mon State Party (NMSP) is frantically back peddling after it says the state counsellor prematurely announced their intention to sign the NCA. The NMSP leaders say the organization is not yet ready to commit to the peace accord, but will continue along a previously established timeline of public consultations followed by a post-Thingyan meeting of its central executive committee before making a decision.

“This news [announced by the state counsellor] is incorrect,” said Nai Hong Sar, vice chair of the UNFC.

“Both the NMSP and the UNFC have not made an official decision about signing the NCA. I don’t know how the wrong information reached Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as we haven’t officially informed the government,” he added.

The UNFC leaders are currently meeting in Chiang Mai, and have said any new developments will be announced following the discussions.

The state counsellor’s announcement, broadcast on state television and posted to her office’s Facebook page, says that the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), the New Mon State Party (NMSP), the Arakan National Council (ANC), the Lahu Democratic Union (LDU) and the Wa National Organisation (WNO) all agreed to sign the NCA.

U Zaw Htay, spokesperson for the State Counsellor’s Office, said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was eager to announce the good news, and did not mean to misrepresent the ethnic armed groups’ intentions in her statement.

“An ethnic armed organization (EAO) told a media outlet that the New Mon State Party had decided to sign the NCA along with other EAOs. The media outlet wasn’t the only source. We received this information from other sources as well, so we announced the joyful news,” he said.

This article was originally translated and edited by Burma News International.

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