Arakan Army: Current Conflict Due to Tatmadaw’s Uninclusive Peace Approach

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Intensifying armed conflict in Rakhine and northern Shan states is the consequence of the military’s failure to adopt an all-inclusive policy in the signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), representatives of the Arakan Army (AA) said.

Khaing Thukha, who is charge of the AA’s information department, pointed out that the three groups involved in current clashes with the government forces—the AA, the ethnic Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA)—were never accepted into the peace process.

“We—the AA, MNDAA and TNLA—used to be in the NCCT,” he said, referring to the National Ceasefire Coordination Team, which preceded the signing of the NCA in 2015. “We actively participated in political negotiations. The Burma Army and the government didn’t recognize us as dialogue partners when signing on the NCA.”

The government and military allged that the groups had been formed too recently and would not be allowed to sign the nationwide ceasefire accord.

“The government broke the all-inclusive policy. The government failed to accept it,” Khaing Thukha said, adding that the peace process has been unstable ever since they and the TNLA and MNDAA were excluded, with peace talks currently stalled. This he attributed to the “rigid attitude of both the government and army.”

The Kachin Independence Organization/Army (KIO/A), which has opted not to sign the NCA, will only sign the accord once others all can also do so. The NCA currently has 10 signatories, of more than 20 ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) in Burma.

“We will only sign the NCA when other EAOs can sign it. We won’t sign the NCA alone,” KIO spokesperson Col Naw Bu told NMG.

The military has said that it would allow the AA, MNDAA and TNLA to sign the NCA if they promise to abandon armed struggle.

“If the government and army don’t accept the presence of AA forces in Rakhine State, it is difficult to move the negotiation process forward,” political analyst U Maung Maung Soe said.

Non-signatory EAOs maintain that seven decades of civil war in Burma could begin to be resolved if the government and army accepted an all-inclusive approach to a national ceasefire and allowed all groups allowed to sign together.