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October 24, 2019

NRPC holds peace dialogue with ethnic armed groups in Kengtung

A meeting between the National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC) and representatives of the four ethnic armed groups KIO, MNTJP, PSLF and ULA takes place in Kengtung, Shan State. Photo: Phoe Htaung
A meeting between the National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC) and representatives of the four ethnic armed groups KIO, MNTJP, PSLF and ULA takes place in Kengtung, Shan State. Photo: Phoe Htaung

The government’s National Reconciliation and Peace Centre (NRPC) and representatives of the four groups KIO (Kachin Independence Organization), MNTJP (Myanmar National Truth and Justice Party), PSLF (Palaung State Liberation Front) and ULA (United League of Arakan) met at the Amazing Kengtung Resort in Kengtung (Shan State) yesterday morning to discuss signing of the Bilateral Ceasefire Agreement.
Union Attorney-General U Tun Tun Oo, in his capacity as the vice chairman of the NRPC, extended his greetings saying that the meeting was a significant event for the peace making process, and that discussions had been made during the previous occasions in Kengtung for the future ceasefire plan.
During that meeting, both sides thoroughly discussed to stop recent armed conflicts. As a result, the attacks had significantly become fewer along the Union Road despite small remaining clashes in some areas. The three northern ethnic armed groups made a ceasefire announcement as proposed by the government. This situation was recognized as a progress in the ongoing ceasefire attempts. Both sides need to maintain this momentum.
The government discussed the draft proposal of the northern four ethnic armed groups to sign the bilateral ceasefire agreement. Although there were no notable controversies, there were still pending issues on monitoring processes. He was hopeful that this agreement would be signed after both sides had reached agreement.
The unilateral ceasefire announcement by the Tatmadaw would expire on 21 September.
The NRPC vice chairman also urged the representatives of armed groups to bring about a ceasefire agreement as the people across the country were worrying about the results of this meeting.
He also remarked that the peace process would include signing the preliminary bilateral ceasefire agreement with the four northern armed groups in this first stage, and to proceed for making detailed agreements with each individual group. The next step would be the discussions for Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. After these stages, the political dialogues will be held with the participations of all four northern armed groups in accordance with the roadmap based on the results of the peace talks.
The peace process for northern Myanmar was very important at the moment. Dialogues need to be held very frequently to build mutual trust.
The government was also preparing for holding the fourth session of the Union Peace Conference-21st Century Panglong with the NCA signatories before the 2020 General Election. This session was expected to finalize political agreements in building the Democratic Federal Republic, agreements on lasting ceasefire, agreements on basic principles on democracy and federal system, ongoing plans beyond 2020, and implementation procedures.
In adopting the peace process beyond 2020, the ideas of the four northern armed groups were seriously taken into account as the government has recognized that the northern armed groups played crucial role in adopting the future peace process.
Recognizing the seriousness of the meeting, the government side was represented by NRPC members, Lieutenant Generals from the Tatmadaw, Vice Chairman of the Peace Commission, its secretary and members.
KIO General Secretary Kumhtat Hting Nan said that he recognized the development of the fourth meeting due to participation of senior Tatmadaw officers to be able to make wider discussions.
He also said the four northern armed groups welcomed the agreements of NRPC on their draft proposal in the previous meeting, and that it had been a driving force for the progress of meeting. The four armed groups were willing to continue the peace talks without prior conditions. The remaining issues were to be discussed in accordance with the dialogue plan for stronger ceasefire agreement. He added that the four armed groups have reviewed the draft proposal.
Hopefully the participation of senior Tatmadaw personnel would reduce conflicts between the Tatmadaw and the armed groups on the ground, and it was hoped that harsh condemnations of each other would not be made. It was hoped that constructive talks would be made to solve problems.
Then, the representatives discussed the draft Bilateral Ceasefire Agreement in detail.
The meeting was attended by Vice Chairman of NRPC and Union Attorney-General U Tun Tun Oo, Lt- Gen Yar Pyae, Lt-Gen Min Naung, Lt-Gen Tin Maung Win from the Office of the Commander in Chief (Army), Vice Chairman of the Peace Commission U Thein Zaw, its Secretary retired Lt-Gen Khin Zaw Oo, member of Advisory Board for Peace Commission U Moe Zaw Oo, Shan State government’s Security and Border Affairs Minister Colonel Hla Oo, Director-General U Zaw Htay from Ministry of the Office of the State Counsellor, Secretary of Stan State government U Soe Soe Zaw and peace negotiator U Thet Naing.
From the EAOs side KIO representative head KIO general secretary, MNTJP representative group head, ULA representative head ULA secretary general and PSLF representative group head PSLF General-Secretary attended the meeting. Peace-talk Creation Group (PCG) representatives also attended the meeting as observers.
NRPC representatives and representatives of four EAOs had met in Muse on 30 April, Mongla on 30 June and Kengtung on 31 August for the Bilateral Ceasefire Agreement and this was the fourth meeting.
After the day’s meeting between NRPC and KIO, PSLF, MNTJP, ULA representatives, the heads of the two sides signed a 7 points meeting minutes.
In his concluding remark at the end of the meeting PSLF representative head General Secretary Tar Bone Kyaw said the day’s meeting held for the second time in Kengtung brought many expectations for peace. Many tea breaks were taken and discussions were intense. Even though some expectations for peace that were hoped for were not achieved, some good results had been achieved. In their opinion agreeing to discuss again another time, agreeing on a work process to achieve a true ceasefire and sign an agreement could be regarded as good results. However, thinking back, leaders from both side need to work towards freeing the people from the damage caused by conflict. Tatmadaw leaders attended the meeting together with NRPC. He added that even though there were conflicts at lower levels, they were able to hear the leaders speaking their minds and thought this was a good basis to stop the war.
Afterwards, Vice Chairman of NRPC and Union Attorney-General U Tun Tun Oo said the last Kengtung meeting discussed the proposal of the four groups and that the day’s meeting continued with further discussions and coordination efforts were made. Agreements reached were issued as meeting minutes. Discussions were made point by point based on the meeting minutes and agreement was reached to meet again in October to discuss signing of the bilateral agreement, ending the ongoing fighting, IDP matters, troop deployment, ending the seizing of personnel and finding conflict resolution methods. Efforts would be made towards signing an agreement, said the NRPC vice chairman.
After the meeting, Director General U Zaw Htay from the Ministry of the State Counsellor’s Office held a press conference with local and foreign news media. — Ye Khaung Nyunt (Translated by Aung Khin)

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