Govt, Northern Alliance Acknowledge Need for Negotiations—But No Date, Venue Set

A govt spokesperson says a meeting needs to take place as soon as possible, but continues to be held up in logistical details.

Monday, August 19, 2019

A government spokesperson has condemned recent attacks by members of the Northern Alliance of ethnic armed groups on a military academy and strategic infrastructure.

President’s Office spokesperson U Zaw Htay said in a press conference on Friday that the attacks a day before by joint forces from the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the Arakan Army (AA) on five locations including the Defense Services Technological Academy would impact the government-led peace process.

“Both sides must have commitment to restore peace… they should not take advantage during the negotiation period. It’s best to participate in political dialogue with a full commitment. I want to urge all respective leaders to implement these things,” U Zaw Htay said.

According to the President’s Office, a total of 15 people were killed and 13 injured in the strikes and the fighting that has followed. The majority of the casualties were soldiers and police.

TNLA spokesperson Maj Mai Aik Kyaw told NMG that the attacks were a counter-offensive carried out in response to heavy Burma Army offensives in the group’s territory. He described the strikes as a way of putting pressure on the military to cease its activities.

The AA, MNDAA and TNLA released a statement on August 12 calling on the army to stop all military offensives during the negotiation period, and during its own unilateral ceasefire.

U Zaw Htay said that the path to negotiations with the ethnic armed groups would remain open and that he hoped meetings would take place as soon as possible.

“We are trying to hold a negotiation meeting. We are trying to negotiate with them through contact persons and peace brokers. Negotiations are still ongoing,” the President’s Office spokesperson said.

Maj Mai Aik Kyaw of the TNLA said that while his group is ready to talk to the government and military, there is frustration because of continued Tatmadaw strikes and delays in negotiation.

“We need to hold a political dialogue. We used to say in the meetings that they need to reduce the military offensives, but even until today, they haven’t done it,” he told NMG. “Clashes have intensified more. We are ready to dialogue with them but the meeting is delayed because they cannot choose a meeting venue.”

Representatives of the Burmese government’s Peace Commission and the Northern Alliance held a meeting in Muse, northern Shan State on April 30 and a follow-up meeting was agreed to, but is yet to take place.