GROUP CHOICE – SSPP in­volve­ment in two eth­nic um­brella or­ga­ni­za­tion a dilemma or spe­cial ar­range­ment?

SSPP in­volve­ment in two eth­nic um­brella or­ga­ni­za­tions a dilemma or spe­cial ar­range­ment?

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS - Sai Wan­sai

SSPP does not seem to have the same dilemma as the KIO in hav­ing to choose one al­liance group over the other but has po­si­tioned it­self to be a bridge be­tween the two al­liances.

As the peace process con­tin­ues, many have been spec­u­lat­ing that the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) might be in the same po­si­tion as the Kachin In­de­pen­dence Or­ga­ni­za­tion (KIO), as to ei­ther opt for one or the other of two eth­nic um­brella armed or­ga­ni­za­tions. Both have to de­cide whether to throw in there lot with ei­ther the United Na­tion­al­i­ties Fed­eral Coun­cil (UNFC) or Fed­eral Po­lit­i­cal Ne­go­ti­a­tion and Con­sul­ta­tive Com­mit­tee (FPNCC), also pop­u­larly known as Pangh­sang al­liance. While the KIO has de­cided to be with the lat­ter, what the SSPP has de­cided re­mains un­clear.

It is im­por­tant to un­der­stand the for­ma­tion of Shan armed or­gan­i­sa­tions which con­sist of Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) and Restora­tion Coun­cil of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/ SSA).

The SSPP/SSA is the north­ern Shan army and and has its head­quar­ters in Wan Hai, Kehsi Town­ship, north­ern Shan State, with op­er­a­tional ar­eas cov­er­ing Namkham, Langkho, Hsi­paw, Kyaukme, Monghsu, Tangyan, Mongyai, Kehsi, Lashio Town­ship. It has an es­ti­mated strength of some 8,000 sol­diers. It was born out of the orig­i­nal Shan re­sis­tance on May 21, 1958. Due to the Burma Army’s pres­sure to trans­form into a Bor­der Guard Force (BGF) in 2010, the SSPP/SSA bri­gade 3 and seven were trans­formed into a BGF, the fol­low­ing year, the strong­est bri­gade led by Lt. Gen­eral Pang Fa re­ju­ve­nated the SSPP/SSA and re­fused to be­come a BGF.

Even though there has been a cease­fire agree­ment be­tween the SSPP and Burma Army since 1989, armed con­flict be­tween the two has been off and on since 2010. At the same time, the SSPP as a non-sig­na­tory of the Na­tion­wide Cease­fire Agree­ment (NCA) is in­volved in the on­go­ing peace ne­go­ti­a­tions with the gov­ern­ment un­der the ban­ner of the UNFC.

Ac­cord­ing to one top SSPP func­tionary, who does not want to be named, there is no clause which says the SSPP can­not be­long to both the UNFC and the FPNCC. It is a bit un­clear why the SSPP joined the FPNCC. The SSPP seems to be say­ing that join­ing the UNFC is a po­lit­i­cal mea­sure while the FPNCC is a mil­i­tary

Ge­o­graph­i­cally, the SSPP is lo­cated right in the mid­dle, with the United Wa State Army (UWSA) in the east, RCSS in the south and to the north, the North­ern-Al­liance – Burma (NA-B) made up of Ta’ang Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army (TNLA), Kachin In­de­pen­dence Army (KIA), Arakan Army (AA) and Myan­mar Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance Army (MNDAA) or Kokang.

Also, to its north, the RCSS has pock­ets of op­er­a­tional ar­eas which has led to oc­ca­sional armed clashes be­tween the TNLA and it­self. The SSPP had last year of­fered its good of­fice to be a me­di­a­tor to end the armed con­flict be­tween the two, but so far noth­ing has been un­der­taken.

Anal­y­sis

SSPP does not seem to have the same dilemma as the KIO in hav­ing to choose one al­liance group over the other but has po­si­tioned it­self to be a bridge be­tween the two al­liances.

The SSPP has a ba­sic com­mit­ment to the UNFC’s eight-point amend­ment pro­posal for the NCA which was, at an ear­lier stage, en­dorsed by the NA-B. Only af­ter the for­ma­tion of the Pangh­sang al­liance or FPNCC had NA-B mem­bers started to re­ject the NCA ap­proach ar­gu­ing for a new process that is en­tirely dif­fer­ent.

FPNCC ad­vo­cates for stop­ping the war na­tion­wide first and en­ter­ing the peace ne­go­ti­a­tion process within an agreed time-span. Fol­low­ing the 21st Cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence (21CPC), held from May 24 un­til 29, where the Pangh­sang al­liance mem­bers were in­vited as spe­cial guests they changed their de­mands from to­tal re­jec­tion of the NCA to the amend­ment of it so that they could also sign and en­ter po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue as full ne­go­ti­a­tion mem­bers in the 21CPC.

How­ever, it is not clear if the FPNCC is ready to ac­cept the UNFC bar­gain­ing po­si­tion that is based on its eight-point pro­posal that pre­vi­ously had been ap­proved by the NA-B.

The UNFC eight-point pro­posal that should be added to the NCA are:

1. Bi­lat­eral cease­fire agree­ment be­tween the gov­ern­ment-mil­i­tary and the UNFC;

2. To build a fed­eral union with re­sult achieved from 21CPC;

3. Agree­ment of tri­par­tite di­a­logue com­po­si­tion; of con­sti­tu­tional law based on the out­come of 21CPC;

5. Ad­vance agree­ment on Mil­i­tary Codes of Con­duct (CoC) and mon­i­tor­ing on Terms of Ref­er­ence (ToR);

6. For­ma­tion of mil­i­tary Joint Mon­i­tor­ing Com­mit­tee (JMC) with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from gov­ern­ment, Eth­nic Armed Or­ga­ni­za­tions (EAOs) and in­ter­na­tional fig­ures ac­cept­able to both par­ties;

7. For­ma­tion of a neu­tral, en­force­ment tri­bunal for NCA in­volv­ing do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional law ex­perts and judges that are ac­cept­able to both par­ties; and

8. Devel­op­men­tal projects to be tack­led ac­cord­ing to Ex­trac­tive In­dus­tries Trans­parency Ini­tia­tive (EITI), in co­op­er­a­tion with the pub­lic and the EAOs. (Source: UNFC Doc­u­men­ta­tion)

Mean­while, there has been no move­ment on whether the UNFC’s Del­e­ga­tion for Po­lit­i­cal Ne­go­ti­a­tion (DPN) and gov­ern­ment’s Peace Com­mis­sion (PC) will agree to the eight­point pro­posal.

In sum, it could be said that the SSPP sees it­self as a me­di­a­tor and a bridge be­tween the two non-sig­na­tory EAOs’ eth­nic um­brella groups of UNFC and FPNCC. Re­port­edly, it was said that the UNFC would hold an­other all eth­nic con­fer­ence in Au­gust to work out com­mon poli­cies in the on­go­ing strug­gle for the es­tab­lish­ment of a gen­uine fed­eral union.

Thus, it seems the SSPP’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in both UNFC and FPNCC has the ap­proval or con­sent of both the al­liance groups, if not an agreed ar­range­ment.

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