UNFC Suspends Some Activities as Members Drift Apart

Only three of the ethnic coalition’s five members attended both days of its latest meeting.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

The United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), a coalition of five ethnic armed organizations (EAOs), has decided to temporarily suspend some of its activities as its members pursue diverging paths amid Burma’s ongoing effort to end decades of conflict.

The decision was made at an emergency meeting held on August 1-2 that was attended in full by only three of its members.

Nai Hongsa, the chairman of the UNFC, said that the move was made in recognition of the fact that some of the group’s members had signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), while others were still fighting the Burma Army in the country’s north.

“UNFC member organizations have different situations. Some have already signed the NCA, but others haven’t. Some members are part of the Northern Alliance,” he said, referring to a coalition of four EAOs that are still fighting government forces.

He added, however, that the UNFC was still a functioning alliance and that some of its activities would continue through the Ethnic Nationalities Affairs Center(ENAC), a body formed in 2013 to facilitate the peace process.

“There will still be some activities. If we need to do something, we will do it through the ENAC. If we need to hold a meeting, we will hold a meeting. We will discuss matters with all members if the situation demands it,” Nai Hongsa told NMG.

Two of the UNFC’s members—the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Lahu Democratic Union (LDU)—have already signed the NCA, while a third, the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), is engaged in talkswith government and Burma Army peace negotiators.

The two other members—the Arakan National Council (ANC) and the Shan State Progressive Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA)—are both still fighting the Burma Army.

“Some member organizations have yet to sign the NCA. They are working together and negotiating with the Northern Alliance, so they are standing on the policy of the Northern Alliance.That’s why it’s difficult [for the UNFC] to work together as a unique organization. We just have to accept the current situation,” Nai Hongsa said.

The SSPP/SSA, which did not attend the latest UNFC meeting,has been negotiating with the government to sign the NCA, but is also a member of the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC), which includes members of the Northern Alliance.

The ANC attended the first day of the meeting, but did not return for the second day.

The UNFC was formed in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in November 2010 by 11 EAOs.