The RCSS and SSPP sign an agreement promising to hold further talks, and to refrain from instigating problems between the two forces.
The Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) and Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) signed a joint ceasefire following successful negotiations last week, with the RCSS stating that they will work toward joining the two armed forces.
Col Sai Nguen, Secretary (2) of the RCSS, told SHAN that further talks were in order.
“We will have different levels of discussion between us. We will have informal meetings as well as official meetings. We already formed negotiation committees on both sides,” he explained. “Both committee members will discuss, then the central committee members will discuss. After that, we will have a headquarters-level discussion. Finally, we will try to merge the two Shan forces to become one Shan army.”
The discussions, Col Sai Nguen emphasized, would happen “step by step” and would “take time.”
The groups stated in the recent joint ceasefire that they had signed the agreement at the request of monks and the Shan public, and that they would meet and discuss creating a long-lasting ceasefire.
Lt-Col Sai Su, Secretary (2) of the SSPP, said that in order to move forward, both sides would need to avoid statements that could instigate further controversy.
“We are going to work together when our agenda is the same, but we will work separately when the agenda is different. We will discuss between us,” he said, adding that the main priority will be implementing the joint ceasefire agreement signed on May 11.
“Both Shan armies need to keep their forces under control and not attack each other through controversial speech or writing,” Lt-Col Sai Su said.
Both RCSS and SSPP leaders ordered their forces to withdraw from Ton Keng village in Hsipaw Township in the evening of March 19. The clashes in the area stopped, but the two forces shot at each other in Namtu Township the following day, on March 20.
Locals in northern Shan State told SHAN that they hope the ceasefire stops conflict.
“If they stop fighting, it’s really good. If they expand forces, the clashes will resume. It will be best if they can merge and become one Shan army. We have been suffering a lot from these clashes between the two Shan armies,” Sai Wee, who lives in Hsipaw’s Kong Keng village said.
RCSS and SSPP forces have clashed in Hsipaw, Kyaukme, and Namtu townships from late 2018 until March 2019. Thousands of locals fled the fighting and were unable to tend to their crops. The communities anticipate economic hardships over the year to come.