A spokesperson for the Burmese government described recent counter-attacks carried out by members of the Northern Alliance of ethnic armed groups as “terrorist actions” in a press conference in Thailand this week.
U Zaw Htay, director of the President’s office, spoke to media in Chiang Mai following an informal meeting between a government delegation and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) on Tuesday.
“From the government’s perspective, the actions of the three Northern Alliance groups are terrorist actions that can impact the peace process,” he said, referring to the Arakan Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army. “Armed struggle cannot solve political problems. The government still opens the door to peace.”
Following Burma Army offensives against them in northern Shan State and Rakhine State, the three Northern Alliance members launched coordinated attacks on five sites including military and police tollgates in Nawng Khio, Shan State, and the Defense Services Technological Academy in Pyin Oo Lwin.
The groups have not signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the government; the group that U Zaw Htay had met with that day, the RCSS, has. U Zaw Htay insisted that the government has been working toward signing bilateral agreements with non-NCA signatory groups. However, the government and the Northern Alliance groups have not met in months.
“If there is a political dialogue on one side and battles on the other side, both sides need to review it,” U Zaw Htay said.
The President’s office director also said that leaders of the Federal Political Negotiation Consultative Committee—of which the Northern Alliance groups are also members—met with special envoy Sun Guo Xiang of China in Kunming on Tuesday.
“I don’t know what the results will be… China has a relationship with ethnic armed organizations along the China-Myanmar border. We respect China’s role in our peace process as a peace promoter,” U Zaw Htay said.
In the meeting with the RCSS in Chiang Mai, participants from the government and the Shan armed group reportedly discussed how the peace process in the country has stalled and how to move it forward, but specific details of the discussions were not shared.