Members of the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC), a prominent ethnic armed organization (EAO) alliance based in Burma’s northern Shan State, announced they won’t be joining the government’s belated Union Peace Conference – 21st Century Panglong when it convenes next week.
The FPNCC statement, which was released yesterday (August 13) from the United Wa State Party/Army’s Pangkham (Panghsang) headquarters, said without medical facilities to test and treat coronavirus in the members’ mountainous areas that travel during the pandemic poses unnecessary risks.
It also expressed disappointment at the government’s failure to invite the Arakan Army (AA), which is part of FPNC and fighting with the Burma Army in Rakhine and southern Chin states. In a controversial move several months ago, the government declared the EAO a designated terrorist organization.
Zaw Htay, director general of the State Counselor’s Office, told the media on August 5 it would invite seven EAOs that are non-signatories of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) to the peace conference from August 19-21, but not AA.
None of FPNCC’s members are signatories to the NCA.
Political analyst Maung Maung Soe said the government has met with AA, Ta’ang National Liberation Army and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army at least six meetings between 2018 and 2019 in order to discuss a bilateral ceasefire. By barring AA from the peace conference, he said it would impede relations with all of the groups, which in addition to being members of FPNCC are also part of the Three Brotherhood Alliance.
TNLA told SHAN it will make little difference whether or not non-NCA signatories EAOs attend the peace conference.
Other EAOs in FPNCC include Kachin Independence Organization, Shan State Progressive Party/Shan State Army and National Democratic Alliance Army.