NCA-Signatory EAOs Agree to Resume Official Peace Talks With Govt, Military


Monday, October 14, 2019

Ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) signatory to Burma’s Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) have agreed in principle to resume official peace negotiations with the government and military, and to discuss issues on which the peace process remains deadlocked.

The agreement came after a three-day meeting of the Peace Process Steering Team (PPST) in Chiang Mai, Thailand, which concluded on Saturday.

“We already know the deadlock issues. We will try to remove these deadlocks. We are flexible in solving this problem through informal meetings or official meetings,” Col Sai Nguen, a PPST spokesperson, said. “If all stakeholders are likely to get a common agreement, we will continue to hold [another session of] the 21st Century Panglong Conference,” he added.

Negotiation teams from the PPST and the government will discuss issues including federalism, the stalled peace process and ceasefires “in depth,” Col Sai Nguen said.

According to a statement released after the PPST meeting, NCA-signatory EAOs have agreed to hold a Joint Implementation Coordination Meeting (JICM), but the agenda of the meeting will depend on negotiation results.

“We will hold an advance negotiation meeting for the JICM. Then we will negotiate regarding the topics. If we agree on the topics, we will set a meeting date. So we are going to implement it step-by-step,” Col Sai Nguen said.

The PPST’s statement also noted that October 15 will mark the fourth anniversary of the signing of the NCA. A PPST committee will join a government team in commemorating the occasion.

The current deadlocks have been apparent since the second session of the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference—also called the Union Peace Conference—in July 2018. Official peace talks have largely been halted since then.

According to the PPST, the primary issues on which the stakeholders have been unable to move forward are the right to secession from the Union and the military’s call for a single army in the country.

Mutual trust needs to be gained between dialogue partners in order to move forward on these issues, another PPST spokesperson, Nai Aung Mangae, said.

“Negotiation teams for us and the government will negotiate the two proposals of both the government and the EAOs soon. Depending on the meeting results, a negotiation path will be opened,” he said. “Both parties are committed to the peace process. I think we can move it forward.”

The PPST stated that it would also try to include non-NCA signatories in the peace process, to make it more inclusive.

The team urged all stakeholders involved in fighting in Rakhine and northern Shan State to halt clashes and solve problems through political dialogue; government forces have been engaging in intensified offensives against non-NCA signatories including the Arakan Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army.

A total of 74 representatives attended the PPST meeting, held from October 10-12, including PPST leaders, NCA-signatory EAO representatives, advisors, technical support team members and office staff.

NCA signatories include the government, military, and the All-Burma Students Democratic Front, Arakan Liberation Party, Chin National Front, Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, Karen National Liberation Army/Peace Council, Karen National Union, Lahu Democratic Union, New Mon State Party, Pa-O National Liberation Organization and the Restoration Council of Shan State.