Others may not agree with him, but not the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA), particularly its header Lt-Gen Yawdserk, the Deed of Commitment for Peace and National Reconciliation signed on Union Day, 12 February, has been called the premium guarantee by Naypyitaw that the much awaited political dialogue is indeed coming before this year’s elections.
“We have signed the state-level and union-level ceasefire agreements because we want to engage in political dialogue and to resolve our problems politically,” he told SHAN yesterday, a day after his return from Taunggyi, Shan State capital. “This time it was top-notch, it was signed by the President, the parliamentary speakers, ministers and political parties. It was also witnessed by the media that, unlike previous negotiations, was with us from the beginning to the end. We didn’t have anything like this before.”
“Had it been only about ceasefire, we would not have signed,” he added.
The Myanmar Peace Center (MPC) delegation that is on a visit in Chiangmai agreed. “At first it was to be signed only by 3 ministers, 3 legislators and 3 generals,” said U Hla Maung Shwe, its special adviser. “But then the President decided he would sign it himself and asked the two parliamentary speakers to back him up. It took the 3 generals who were assigned by the Commander-in-Chief by surprise. They said had they known it in advance, the Commander-in-Chief himself would have taken part in the signing.”
Asked what he thought about other armed resistance movements that did not take part in the signing, Sao Yawdserk said, “I’m a bit confused about it myself. Because most of them had participated in the NCCT (Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team)-UPWC (Union Peacemaking Work Committee) negotiations for more than a year and should know better than us.” (The RCSS is not a member of the NCCT)
Many had told him they were in agreement with the terms of the Deed of Commitment, but no mandate was given to take part in the signing.
Apart from the RCSS/SSA, only the Karen National Union (KNU), Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) and Karen Peace Council (KPC) were the only signatories although 13 organizations attended the event.
“Of course, whether the Deed really becomes a deed and not just words is another matter,” Yawdserk concluded.
The RCSS/SSA delegation headed by him also visited Taunggyi and Panglong during his 12-day visit.