Govt to meet Kokang allies in Mongla today
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”.