The United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), a coalition of ethnic armed organisations (EAOs), will continue with tripartite negotiations in an effort to get more EAOs to sign the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA).
The NCA vice-chairman, Nai Hong Sar made the comment to reporters at the end of the Union Peace Conference (the 21st Century Panglong Conference) which was held at Myanmar International Convention Centre in Naypyidaw from 31 August to 3 September.
The three groups taking part in the tripartite negotiations are: one group representing the Burmese Government, parliament and the military; another group representing the EAOs and a final group representing political parties.
Nai Hong Sar said: “Representatives from relevant experts, women’s groups and [the fields of] literature, culture and economics will be included in each group. It is not just us, the EAOs, but people who are close to us from various sectors who need to be involved.”
Section 22 of the NCA states: “Representatives from the government, the hluttaws (parliaments), and the Tatmadaw (Burma Armed Forces), representatives of the ethnic armed organisations, representatives from registered political parties, ethnic representatives and other relevant representatives shall participate in political dialogue that is based on an all-inclusive principle.”
The Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) which represents16 EAOs and the Union Peacemaking Working Committee (UPWC) which represents the government, signed the draft NCA on 31 March 2015.
The Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) representing16 EAOs and the Union Peacemaking Working Committee (UPWC) representing the government signed a draft NCA on 31 March 2015
Nai Hong Sar said that because the government at the time had rejected ethnic leaders’ demands to amend some points in the draft agreement only eight EAOs went on to sign the finalised NCA on 15 October 2015, with all the current members of the UNFC refusing to sign it.
The eight EAOs that signed the NCA are: the New Mon State Party (NMSP), the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA), the Arakan National Council (ANC), the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), the Lahu Democratic Union (LDU), and the Wa National Organisation (WNO).
In their opening speeches to the recent Union Peace Conference both the State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the army Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said they were prioritising the signing of the NCA.
In her speech Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said: “Some organisations have already signed the NCA, but there are also those that, for various reasons have not yet signed. As future political dialogue needs to be based on the NCA, our new government has been making every effort to bring about the participation of the non-signatories.”
She said that the NCA is not only the first step towards peace, but also the first step towards the establishment of a democratic federal union.
KhunOkkar, the patron of the Pao National Liberation Organisation (PNLO), one of the EAOs that signed the NCA said: “[EAOs] can only participate in future national-level political dialogue after this conference if they sign the NCA. They can’t participate if they don’t sign it.”
During the Union Peace Conference ethnic people called for an amendment to the 2008 constitution, but the army said any amendments have to be in line with the current constitution.
Representatives of 72 groups submitted their views to the peace conference and all the speeches delivered during the conference, including one given by the UN Secretary General, were recorded.