TNP of­fers to ne­go­ti­ate peace be­tween ri­val groups in Shan State

The Myanmar Times - - News - THU THU AUNG thuthuaung@mm­times.com

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.

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