Mu­si­cal chairs

How the peace talks were thrown out of kil­ter by a swap in groups at­tend­ing

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS - Paul Keenan

Last week, hun­dreds of rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Myan­mar’s eth­nic in­sur­gent groups gath­ered in the cap­i­tal for talks aimed at re­viv­ing Aung San Suu Kyi’s peace process af­ter months of heavy fight­ing in Shan State.

In what was an un­fore­seen oc­cur­rence, the groups that had been ex­pected to at­tend - the Karenni Na­tional Progress Party (KNPP), the New Mon State Party (NMSP), the Lahu Demo­cratic Union and the Arakan Na­tional Coun­cil. All mem­ber of the United Na­tion­al­i­ties Fed­eral Coun­cil (UNFC) - were ab­sent, while those who were not ex­pected to par­tic­i­pate, mem­bers of the North­ern Al­liance, which has been fight­ing in Shan State, did. The North­ern Al­liance com­prised of the United Wa State Army (UWSA), the Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance Army (NDAA), the Kachin In­de­pen­dence Army (KIA), and the Shan State Pro­gres­sive Party (SSPP) the Ta’ang Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army (TNLA) the Myan­mar Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance Army (MDNAA) and the Arakan Army (AA) de­cided to par­tic­i­pate af­ter the last-minute in­ter­ven­tion of China. The con­flict­ing po­si­tions of the two eth­nic blocs, the UNFC and North­ern Al­liance, fur­ther ex­em­pli­fies the con­tra­dic­tions in the na­ture of the eth­nic con­flict in the coun­try and high­lights the dif­fi­cul­ties that re­main in solv­ing eth­nic is­sues in the coun­try. Also in at­ten­dance were those groups that had signed the Na­tion­wide Cease­fire Agree­ment (NCA), in­clud­ing the Karen Na­tional Union (KNU) and the Restora­tion Coun­cil of Shan State (RCSS).

All of the groups have dif­fer­ing ob­jec­tives and views on how to move the peace process for­ward, this com­bined with what the Gov­ern­ment and the Myan­mar Mil­i­tary wants also adds to an in­creas­ingly con­fus­ing mi­lieu.

That said, how­ever, any steps taken that could see peace re­stored to eth­nic states rav­aged by decades of con­flict must be a pos­i­tive move.

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