The government’s Peace Commission will meet next month with negotiators from an umbrella organization representing ethnic armed groups that have not yet signed the ceasefire in the hopes of swaying additional signatories to join the nationwide accord.
No armed groups have inked the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) since the eight initial groups joined the pact in 2015 undere previous administration. The National League for Democracy-led government has anxiously courted the United Nationalities Federal Council – a bloc of non-signatories – attempting to bring more groups into the fold.Nai Aung Ma Nge, deputy leader of the Delegation for Political Negotiation under the UNFC, informally met with Peace Commission members in Chiang Mai, Thailand this week to set the stage for the forthcoming official talks.
“We were able to negotiate the date for the official meeting during [our July 20] informal meeting. We will confirm the actual date when the meeting draws nearer. It will be held inside the country,” said Nai Aung Ma Nge.
“Informal meetings are very helpful to both sides in searching for ways to sign an agreement. It’s not easy to amend [the agreement] after it has been signed,” he added.
In an interview with the Mon News Agency, U Hla Maung Shwe from the government’s Peace Commission, said the nationwide ceasefire agreement will be signed if upcoming discussions run smoothly. Each of the UNFC members will need to sign the agreement individually.
“We need to find a solution to sign the NCA by quickly overcoming the eight-point [proposal]. Respective leaders will then be to make their own decision after they meet,” said U Hla Maung Shwe.
The government has agreed in principle to the UNFC’s proposal, which lays out preconditions for signing the NCA.
The proposal, which ends with signing the NCA if all the terms are met, includes the Tatmadaw and government declaring a bilateral ceasefire, building a federal Union based on the Panglong Spirit and agreeing on the composition if a tripartite dialogue between the government – including the Hluttaw and the Tatmadaw – the ethnic armed groups, and the political parties. The UNFC has also called for establishing a new constitution and incorporating international representatives in tasks carried out by a Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee.
The UNFC has said it will follow the peace course set by the NCA, even as an alliance of other ethnic armed groups led by the powerful United Wa State Army announced the need for a new process, and initially rejected the NCA. Two members of the UNFC, I cling notably the Kachin Independence Army, resigned earlier this year. Disagreements over the NCA were believed to have contributed to the fracture.