NCA an­niver­sary guests

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - CHAN THAR chan­thar@mm­times.com

The gov­ern­ment plans to in­vite non-sig­na­tory eth­nic armed groups to mark the sec­ond an­niver­sary of the NCA at an event this Sun­day, said a gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial.

THE gov­ern­ment will in­vite nonsigna­tory armed eth­nic or­gan­i­sa­tions to the sec­ond an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion this Sun­day of the Na­tion­wide Cease­fire Agree­ment that it signed with eight armed or­gan­i­sa­tions in 2015.

U Zaw Htay, di­rec­tor general of the State Coun­sel­lor’s Of­fice told The Myan­mar Times on Tues­day that in­vi­ta­tion will be sent within a few days to the non-sig­na­tory groups.

Ac­cord­ing to U Zaw Htay, State Coun­sel­lor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Com­man­der-in-chief of De­fense Ser­vices Se­nior General Min Aung Hlaing and Karen Na­tional Union’s chair­per­son Pado Saw Mutu Say Poe will de­liver speeches at the event.

“We are now pre­par­ing to cel­e­brate. We are ar­rang­ing to in­vite the guests and will in­vite within a few days,” he added.

In ad­di­tion, former Pres­i­dent U Thein Sein, along with his chief ne­go­tia­tor U Aung Min and his peace team will also be in­vited to the event, he said.

The cel­e­bra­tion is planned to be held in Nay Pyi Taw, where heads of in­cum­bent and former ad­min­is­tra­tion, mil­i­tary lead­ers will also at­tend.

In an ef­fort to end more than six decades of in­ter­nal mil­i­tary con­flicts be­tween the gov­ern­ment and var­i­ous eth­nic rep­re­sent­ing armed or­gan­i­sa­tions, U Thein Sein in­vited eth­nic armed or­gan­i­sa­tions for peace talks.

After nearly 20 months of ne­go­ti­a­tion be­tween gov­ern­ment and a dozen of armed eth­nic or­gan­i­sa­tions, the NCA draft was achieved in March 2015 and sub­se­quently signed on Oc­to­ber 15, the same year by former ad­min­is­tra­tion and eight armed or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Chin Na­tional Front (CNF), Restora­tion Coun­cil of Shan State (RCSS), Karen Na­tional Union (KNU), Pa-O Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion (PNLO), Demo­cratic Karen Bud­dhist Army (DKBA), Arakan Lib­er­a­tion Party (ALP) and Karen Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army – Peace Coun­cil (KNLA-PC) that are sig­na­tory groups will ap­pear at the event.

U Zaw Htay said that gov­ern­ment is also dis­cussing with sig­na­tory groups on the prospect of hold­ing the next 21st Cen­tury Pan­g­long Conference that has to hap­pen be­fore the end of this year.

A se­nior of­fi­cial from Ta’ang Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army said they would not de­cide whether to at­tend or not hastily even if in­vited by the gov­ern­ment.

“If in­vited, we need to con­sult among our mem­bers. We do not have the in­vi­ta­tion yet. It may be dif­fi­cult as it is very close. To get the in­vi­ta­tion card is im­por­tant. We can’t say def­i­nitely right now,” said Tar Joke Jar, vice chair of the Ta’ang Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army.

TNLA is now a mem­ber of Fed­eral Po­lit­i­cal Ne­go­ti­a­tion and Con­sul­ta­tive Com­mit­tee that has called for re­place­ment of NCA with a more jus­ti­fied peace agree­ment be­cause of its in­ef­fec­tive­ness in end­ing armed con­flicts, which gov­ern­ment has so far not replied.

Se­nior General Min Aung Hlaing at his open­ing re­mark of last Pan­g­long conference in May this year said there is no al­ter­na­tive way to achieve peace other than NCA.

The non-sig­na­to­ries – groups that based in northern part of Myan­mar, that now forms the FPNCC led by United Wa State Army, and mem­bers of United Na­tion­al­i­ties Fed­eral Coun­cil, re­fused to sign the NCA in 2015 be­cause of its na­ture of par­tial­ity.

Former gov­ern­ment did not in­vite the three groups – eth­nic Kokang, Ta’ang and Arakan armies that formed al­liance in 2015 and staged mil­i­tary of­fen­sives against the gov­ern­ment in Kokang self-ad­min­is­tered ar­eas.

The rul­ing gov­ern­ment de­manded the three groups to de­nounce their arms should they want to se­cure seats at peace ne­go­ti­a­tion ta­ble, which the groups have so far not ac­cepted yet.

De­spite ini­tial ef­forts to meet with the three groups ear­lier this year, the talks did not hap­pen over dis­agree­ment on the type of talks, as gov­ern­ment did not agree the groups’ de­mand for the pres­ence of UWSA, KIA and China.

Gov­ern­ment and UNFC’s ne­go­ti­a­tion on the lat­ter’s nine points pro­posal have also not suc­ceeded. Since tak­ing of­fice in April last year, no new group has signed the NCA with the rul­ing-NLD gov­ern­ment.

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