Leaders of some of the nationwide ceasefire agreement [NCA] signatory groups are meeting in northern Thai city Chiang Mai to discuss the formation of a so-called union army that would essentially amalgamate ethnic armed groups and the Myanmar Army.
U Khuensai, advisor for Restoration Council of Shan State-Shan State Army [RCSS-SSA]—one of the four groups attending the workshop—said a model needs to be decided before proposing it to the Myanmar Army.
“They are discussing how the armed groups, which used to fight against [the Myanmar Army] in the past, will unite with them. Unity does not mean surrendering.”
The workshop that is being joined by international experts is offering comparisons to other countries like Nepal, the Philippines, and Yugoslavia that have undergone extensive political transformations in recent years.
The NCA, which was signed last October by only eight of the country’s twenty-one armed groups, has been strongly criticized after two-thirds refused to sign it, mainly because the agreement excluded three groups that have fought with the Myanmar Army in the last two-years.
Just over a month after it was signed, the RCSS-SSA moved its troops to northern Shan State close to areas controlled by non-NSA signatory group, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army. Fighting between the groups has been on-going since late November.
Other key attendees at the workshop that ends tomorrow are Gen Mutu Say Poe, chairman for Karen National Union; Dr Naw Ka Paw Htoo, general secretary for Karen National Liberation Army /Peace Council; and Democratic Karen Benevolent Army representatives.