TNP offers to negotiate peace between rival groups in Shan State
THE Ta’ang National Party is trying to broker a ceasefire to stop ongoing fighting between two rival ethnic armed groups in Shan State, said representatives attending peace talks in Chiang Mai, Thailand, this week.
TNP members and monks from the Ta’Ang community said they are ready to negotiate peace talks between the Ta’ang National Liberation Army and the Restoration Council of Shan State.
“According to the RCSS Lieutenant General Yawk Serk, there is hope for a ceasefire. He is willing to discuss peacebuilding with the TNLA,” said U Nyi Sein, a TNP politician attending the talks in Chiang Mai.
The TNLA and the RCSS have been engaged in sporadic fighting since December. The RCSS was one of eight ethnic armed groups to sign the “nationwide ceasefire agreement” with the government last October.
The TNLA was excluded by the government from the peace process and has previously accused RCSS forces of coordinating offensives with the Tatmadaw. The RCSS denies this.
TNLA members are sitting out the talks in Chiang Mai. Negotiators say that after returning from Thailand they will extend the RCSS potential olive branch and see if both sides can be brought to the table.
“This may be the start of peace, but we shouldn’t hope too much because so far, the fighting has not stopped,” said Mong Cyrus, a Ta’Ang youth leader. He said the fighting has centred in Kutkai and Mongton townships.
Mong Aik Kyaw, a spokesperson for the TNLA, said he has heard of the TNP’s willingness to intervene, and is ready to accept.
“We are also willing to have discussions, but the location will be a problem,” he said. “The RCSS wants to meet in Chiang Mai, but it is not ok for the TNLA to go to Chiang Mai for security reasons.”
Over the next six months, in the interim period between Panglong Conferences, government peace negotiators have encouraged ethnic armed groups to find ways to lay down arms and sign the nationwide ceasefire agreement. It is not yet clear if the non-signatories will be invited to attend the upcoming second session of the conference, and they are excluded from the political dialogue.