Saturday, June 22, 2024

THE THREE LEFT OUT ETHNIC ARMIES: Questions of ratifying nationwide ceasefire agreement together

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When asked, regarding the regime’s top peace negotiator, U Aung Min’s statement of 9 May, during the Peace and Reconciliation Meeting held at Inya Lake Hotel, in Rangoon, which emphasized that only after the conclusion of ceasefire agreement made with the 16 Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs), could the issue of remaining groups – Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Arakan Army (AA) – be discussed, Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) member, Khun Okker replies:
“ In our Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) draft, one of the clause promulgated is to sign (the draft) together, but not at the same time and together. According to the words to sign together, (they) have to be included in the agreement. But there is a bit difference of meaning, if (it is) signed at the same time together or not ”, according to 10 May report of DVB.

Meanwhile, according to BBC report, on 13 May, MNDAA spokesman Tun Myat Lin said they have not received any official overtures from the President, which he said would consider peace negotiation, if  the MNDAA stopped the fighting. The United Wa State Army (UWSA) has offered to mediate, during its meeting with the President, on 8 May, in Kengtung, Shan State, on which occasion the President has made an offer. The President also met Mongla, also known as National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), leader Sai Luen and his wife separately. Sai Luen’s wife is MNDAA boss, Pheng Jaisheng’s daughter, and the President is said to have cordial relation with the couple, since his days as commander in the Kengtung region.

But Tun Myat Lin said, instead of government overtures, they are receiving ongoing heavy bombardment, using helicopter gunship and infantry assaults. And since the MNDAA is strictly conducting a defensive war, if the government stop its offensive, peace could be restored.

U Aung Min reportedly said recently, the follow-up peace process with the three remaining groups could materialize, if they all stop the fighting, for it is them that have started the armed conflicts.

Tun Myat Lin was quite amazed by U Aung Min’s position statement and that he has been explaining MNDAA’s position repeatedly for three months since February, when their home-coming has erupted in an all out war in Kokang area, he told various news media lately.

The government accused the MNDAA for attacking its Kokang Self-Administration Zone government installed by the regime, which, in effect, means the infringement of the country’s sovereignty, while MNDAA maintains that this is a home-coming and a rightful reclamation of its ethnic rights, stolen away by the regime.

The MNDAA maintains that the root cause of the recent armed conflict has its roots in the refusal of yielding to the Burmese military Border Guard Force (BGF) program. Following the rejection of BFG program, in 2009, the then military government, State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) sided with a faction of Kokang and chased out Peng Jaisheng and his troops, under the pretext of drug trafficking and war weapon producing. Consequently, his deputy chairman Bai Suoqian was installed as head of the Kokang Non-administrative Zone. On 9 February 2015, six years later, MNDAA made a forceful comeback to reclaim back its authority and the armed conflict pursued continuing to these days.

Whatever the case, the government dodging the all-inclusiveness demand of the EAOs is not convincing. For it still is not ready to tone down its military onslaught and is hooked to the thinking of saving face and annihilation of the MNDAA, given its heavy causalities despite heavy bombardment and massive troops employment. Besides, the government has also to make a move on its readiness to settle the conflict peacefully, which President Thein Sein has told the UWSP leaders during his meeting, on 8 May, in Kengtung, Shan State.

As such, signing together at the same time might not be so essential, only the inclusion of the three groups, as a promised, in the follow up of the peace process phase, would be enough, which eventually could lead to NCA ratification.

The contributor is ex-General Secretary of the dormant Shan Democratic Union (SDU) — Editor

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