Govt to meet Kokang al­lies in Mongla to­day

The Myanmar Times - - News - THU THU AUNG thuthuaung@mm­

AS a fur­ther step to­ward an in­clu­sive peace process, gov­ern­ment ne­go­tia­tors are to­day headed to Mongla to meet with three al­lied eth­nic armed groups that have not signed a cease­fire.

The peace com­mis­sion will meet with lead­ers of the Myan­mar Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance Army (MNDAA), the Ta’ang Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army (TNLA) and the Arakan Army, U Khin Zaw Oo, one of the gov­ern­ment ne­go­tia­tors and a re­tired lieu­tenant gen­eral con­firmed yes­ter­day.

“We have planned to meet at Mongla in UWSA-con­trolled ter­ri­tory in the NDAA’s ad­min­is­tra­tive zone,” he said.

“We don’t know yet what ex­actly they will dis­cuss in the meet­ing,” he added.

Ac­cord­ing to U Hla Maung Shwe, an­other of the gov­ern­ment ne­go­tia­tors, the meet­ing with the TNLA, the AA, and the MNDAA – also known as Kokang al­lies af­ter the ter­ri­tory where they were jointly fight­ing for against the Tat­madaw last year – has been in the works since July.

The pow­er­ful armed eth­nic group the Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance Army has ap­pealed to the gov­ern­ment to in­vite its three al­lies cur­rently en­gaged in fight­ing with the Tat­madaw to the up­com­ing Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence.

The three groups were ex­cluded from the na­tion­wide cease­fire last Oc­to­ber, a ma­jor fac­tor in the splin­ter­ing of the eth­nic or­gan­i­sa­tions’ unity that led to only eight groups sign­ing the agree­ment. The in­clu­siv­ity of the Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence has been a ma­jor point of dis­cus­sions in the lead-up to the event.

The three groups have been fight­ing the Tat­madaw since Fe­bru­ary 2015. The Tat­madaw has in­sisted that eth­nic or­gan­i­sa­tions want­ing to par­tic­i­pate in the peace talk must drop their weapons.

“The mil­i­tary may want to fight ev­ery eth­nic rebel that ex­ists. So hopes for reach­ing a cease­fire for our peo­ple are not very high,” Bri­gadier-Gen­eral Tun Myat Naing, leader of the Arakan Army, told Myan­mar Now last month.

But U Hla Maung Shwe has pledged that “the gov­ern­ment will find ways to in­clude [all groups] in the peace process”.

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