The Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) Secretariat met with the media at Myanmar International Convention Centre-II yesterday and explained matters relating to the Third Session of the Union Peace Conference-21st Century Panglong, seven groups from the Northern Alliance meeting with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) by non-signatory ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) and armed engagements between the Tatmadaw and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS).
On the second day of the conference, the government group, Tatmadaw group, EAO group, political parties group and Hluttaw group conducted separate discussions on the political sector, economic sector, social sector, security sector and land & environment sector, and the Peace Commission Vice Chairman held a discussion with Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) Vice Chairman U Khu Oo Reh on signing the NCA, it is learnt.
In addition, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi met the seven EAOs from the Northern Alliance in two separate groups at the National Reconciliation and Peace Centre (NRPC) in the afternoon.
“The meeting with UWSA (United Wa State Army) Vice Chairman U Kyauk Kaw An, SSPP Chairman U Hsay Htin, NDAA (National Democratic Alliance Army) [Mongla] Vice Chairman U San Pae and KIO (Kachin Independence Organisation) Vice Chairman (2) S. Gwan Maw was at 3:30 pm, and the meeting with TNLA’s (Ta’ang National Liberation Army) Tar Ku Lan, MNDAA (Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army) U Yan Win Zhong and AA (Arakan Army) U Nyo Tun Aung at 4:30 pm. The main point discussed was to sign the NCA and participate in the Union Peace Conference-21st Century Panglong”, said U Zaw Htay, the spokesperson for the President’s Office.
The three groups – AA, MNDAA and TNLA – were left out of the peace process when the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) was discussing the NCA because of ongoing conflicts in Laukkai.
“They were left out when the NCCT was discussing the NCA because of the battles at Laukkai. After the NLD government took office, AA, MNDAA and TNLA held discussions but they were left out because of two issues. The first was make an announcement and the second was to leave the Underground. If they get these two, they said they will talk about signing the NCA. Now it is not like that. The approach will be different. At this time, too, they want to sign the NCA”, said U Zaw Htay.
Discussions will be held after the third session of the conference for the AA, MNDAA and TNLA to participate in the NCA. But this discussion will not be at the same level as the KIA, UWSA, NDAA and SSPP, it is learnt.
The seven groups from the Northern Alliance were met in two groups by the Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief and the Tatmadaw Deputy Commander-in-Chief on Wednesday, it is learnt.
“The AA, MNDAA and TNLA were met by Tatmadaw Deputy Commander-in-Chief. They have no bilateral agreement (with the Tatmadaw), and they were battling with the Tatmadaw. The KIA, SSPP, UWSA and NDAA have a bilateral agreement (with the Tatmadaw). So they have this difference. Reducing conflicts and how to go toward the NCA was discussed, it is learnt. The main discussion is about signing the NCA”, said U Zaw Htay.
The government will approach the seven members of the Northern Alliance in two separate ways, it was learnt. The reason for inviting them to the conference was to reduce armed engagement with the Tatmadaw and to sign the NCA with the government, officials said.
U Zaw Htay added that “Once the conference is over, there’ll be (discussions on) reducing armed engagements and building trust, and it is hoped that there’ll be an increase in groups signing the NCA between the third and fourth sessions of the conference.”
It was learnt from the press conference that the RCSS and Tatmadaw had agreements signed, but there were armed engagements because of cases of encroaching into delineated areas. Once the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) designates the ceasefire areas exactly, armed engagements will be reduced.
The reason the State Counsellor and Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief had targeted 2019 and 2020 for peace is to prevent the waning of enthusiasm on peace from long, drawn-out periods (of discussion) and other matters, it is learnt.
“To achieve the State Counsellor’s aim of 2019, the government could not do it alone. EAOs and political parties can turn up with various reasons if they don’t want to do it. That is why the State Counsellor had told to do this with determination and without worrying,” said U Zaw Htay.
Answering the media’s questions at yesterday’s press conference were UPDJC secretariat members U Zaw Htay, U Hla Maung Shwe, Yebaw Myo Win and Sai Kyaw Nyunt.
News – Ye Kaung Nyunt
Photo – Pho Htaung