A group of ethnic militias decided on Friday not to sign the Myanmar
government’s nationwide peace pact on the last day of their three-day
summit at the headquarters of the country’s strongest ethnic rebel
force, but instead formed a committee to discuss a “new path to
peace,” a military official from the conference said.
Leaders from seven ethnic militias that have not signed the
government’s October 2015 nationwide cease-fire agreement
(NCA)—including the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), Shan State
Army-North (SSA-N), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army
(MNDAA)—and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), attended the
conference which began Wednesday.
The meeting, hosted by Wa and Mongla ethnic groups from the
mountainous region of eastern Myanmar’s Shan state on the border with
China, was held at the headquarters of the United Wa State Army
(UWSA)—Myanmar’s largest nonstate militia—in Pangkham, the
administrative capital of the militia's territory.
Col. Ta Phone Kyaw, general secretary of the Ta’ang National
Liberation Army (TNLA), said the participants agreed on nine points,
which included not signing the NCA, but rather come up with a new way
to forge peace.
“Having a nine-point agreement is something through which we can show
our ethnic groups’ unity despite sustaining offensive attacks from
government military,” he said.
Eight ethnic armed groups signed the NCA in October 2015. Other
militias did not endorse the pact because they objected to its lack of
all-inclusiveness or because they were—and continue to be—engaged in
hostilities with Myanmar’s military.
“We think that the government military needs to stop its offensive
attacks and hold political dialogue,” Ta Phone Kyaw said.
The newly formed committee will try to hold discussions with national
government and military representatives to determine what the new
approach will be, he said.
Peace process losing momentum
On Thursday, UWSA chairman Bao Youxing told delegates at the meeting
in Pangkham that “a new path to peace” is necessary because the
government’s efforts to get other ethnic militias to sign the NCA have
lost their momentum, Agence France-Presse reported, citing a leaked
version of his speech as the source.
The civilian-led government plans to hold the second meeting of the
21st-Century Panglong Conference of peace talks in March.
But Ta Phone Kyaw said the non-NCA signatory groups cannot yet say if
they will participate in the summit.
Ethnic leaders said they will try to resolve political problems
through political means and discuss with government representatives
the 15 points that the UWSA submitted during the first round of the
Panglong Conference last August and September.
UWSA delegates walked out of the first round of peace talks because
they were designated as observers rather than participants.
Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been leading efforts to
end decades of civil wars between ethnic armed groups and the military
and forge peace. But ongoing skirmishes in Kachin and Shan states in
the country’s north have threatened to derail the process.
(c) 2017 RFA