On the occasion of Mongla’s 30th peace anniversary which falls on June 30, leader of the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) Sai Lin told the audience of thousands, attended by invited dignitaries that included government’s Peace Commission (PC), Chinese diplomats, many Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) and political parties that Mongla is ready to embrace eternal peace.
The well-rehearsed and planned anniversary was held for nearly three hours in Mongla peace stadium with pomp and splendor, where PC vice-chairman Thein Zaw, secretary Khin Zaw Oo, together with Shan state security and border affairs minster Colonel Hla Oo were present. Chinese Special Envoy for Asian Affairs Sun Guoxiang also attended the occasion together with his delegation. Some EAOs, Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) signatories and also non-signatories, together with various political parties were present at the anniversary occasion as well.
Mongla leader Sai Lin in his opening speech said: “In the process of peace and national reconciliation spirit of 21st Century Panglong Conference will speed up political negotiation of eternal peace approach, which (Mongla) will tread.”
However, he added: “By successful negotiation and enthusiastic participation in peace process, taking into account of the situation of all organizations, we will have to strive for the guarantee of our region’s lasting and durable peace.”
Echoing Sai Lin, Mongla’s Peace and Solidarity Committee (PSC) permanent committee member Kyi Myint told the media: “If the signing (of NCA) will be conducted and done in front of foreign leader witnesses, we will also do it.”
Aung San Suu Kyi, the state counselor, sent in a letter of goodwill in which she emphasized in order to steadfastly hold on to durable tranquility, peace, including upholding and implementation of the rights of the ethnic peoples, conducting national level political negotiations are needed. She urged that Mongla signed the NCA and participate in political dialogue, from which outcomes a federal union will be established.
“As national level political negotiations are being held according to the NCA specification, the special region 4, Mongla is invited to sign the NCA to build a federal union together, according to the outcomes of political discussions,” said the state counselor.
Apart from Suu Kyi, the ex-president Thein Sein also sent in goodwill letter where he thanked for the invitation and wish Mongla continued prosperity.
In the same vein, ex-prime minister Khin Nyunt during the military regime era, who also used to be a well known nefarious military intelligence chief and architect of the ceasefire deals with Kokang, Wa and Mongla ethnic armed forces that mutinied the Communist Party of Burma (CPB), which ended the communist insurgency for good, also sent in a letter of goodwill. He emphasized the cooperation and goodwill of the breakaway ethnic leaders, without which peace wouldn’t have been achieved in 1989.
The celebration was indeed a spectacular show, which emphasized on peace-building and development within Mongla region. A long procession line of parade included defense troops, various ethnic groups in traditional dress performing cultural dances, and colorfully decorated huge cars showing various administrative departments that are parts of Mongla administration that lasted for more than an hour. The occasion ended with the releasing of colorful balloons, fireworks and firecrackers’ sounds covering the festive atmosphere.
If one compares the Mongla anniversary celebration to the United Wa State Army (UWSA), one would see that the intonations are a bit different, although placing the union flag at the highest place is the same. But Mongla went one step further playing the union national anthem and explicitly saying that it will follow the NCA-based peace process approach.
The UWSA openly showed its military might using thousands of its troops, including its arsenals in its parade, while Mongla emphasized more on development of the economy, ethnic harmony, culture and displayed just a token of its defense forces, necessary for the security of its region.
On the sideline, it facilitated a meeting between the Northern Alliance – Burma (NA-B) and PC, where the latter was said to hand in draft on how bilateral ceasefire would look like from the part of the government. The two parties still cannot agree upon the meeting venue after more than a month. The NA-B either wants to meet in Muse, Panghsang or somewhere within Yunan province of China, while the government, particularly the military, would like to meet within the country under its jurisdiction.
In sum, the whole situation hinges upon all-inclusive participation and adjustment of the NCA to become an acceptable document for the NDAA to be able to sign it, which is also the political position of the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC) as a whole.
FPNCC which is a political alliance is made up of Arakan Army (AA), Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) or Kokang, Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), UWSA, NDAA and Shan State Progress Party (SSPP). The military alliance NA-B members are AA, KIA, MNDAA and TNLA which haven’t sign any ceasefire agreement with the government, while the UWSA, NDAA and SSPP all have signed the state and union levels ceasefire agreement, but not the NCA yet.
As such, while the Mongla anniversary celebration was able to soothe down the military or Tatmadaw’s concern of showing off massive military might like the UWSA, the fundamental disagreement still is not yet resolved, which are all-inclusiveness participation and alteration of the NCA to suit the FPNCC. And with the inability to progress further regarding the bilateral ceasefire between the NA-B and the government, bringing in the FPNCC into the peace negotiation fold will be impossible.
In the aftermath of the Mongla anniversary celebration the political situation could be termed as relax but is still stagnated and nobody could foretell which way the political wind will be blowing in the days to come.