NCA Signatories to Meet for Talks on Inclusive Dialogue

The meeting, to be held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, will follow up on a summit held in May.

By NETWORK MEDIA GROUP
Sunday, August 11, 2019

Leaders of the Peace Process Steering Team (PPST), a group of ethnic armed groups that have signed Burma’s Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), plan to meet in the third week of August to discuss ways of making the country’s political dialogue more inclusive.

Comrade Than Khe, the chairperson of the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF), said that ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) that have signed the NCA will try to find a way to overcome the current deadlock in the Union Peace Conference-21st Century Panglong peace talks at the upcoming meeting.

“The 2020 general elections are fast approaching, so the current government only has about a year and a half before it must go to the polls again. We will discuss how to get the 21st Century Panglong restarted within this period, and how we can think about the situation of non-NCA EAOs,” he said.

The PPST meeting, which follows up on the fourth PPST summit meeting held in May, is scheduled to take place in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on August 21-24.

Khun Myint Tun, the chairman of the Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO) said the PPST would also discuss the tasks of peace process negotiation working committee and government proposals at the meeting.

“The government has proposed four points, which we will discuss at the meeting. We will also discuss how we can implement the peace process under the current situation. We want to hold at least one round of the 21st Century Panglong conference at the end of 2019. This is what we’re focusing on now,” Khun Myint Tun told NMG.

The PPST leaders say that once they have reached a common understanding on the issues, they will be ready to start negotiations with government and army officials in order to move the peace process forward.

“We have many topics, including old, current and new topics to discuss. We have topics we need to discuss among ourselves and some that we are going to talk about with other dialogue partners,” said Comrade Than Khe.

However, he added, several key topics, such as how to strengthen democracy and build a federal union, political equality and self-determination, power-sharing, constitutional amendments, and ethnic minority rights can only be discussed with the government when non-NCA EAOs become part of the dialogue.

“Federal policy cannot be drafted with only us [NCA-signatory EAOs]. This federal policy also concerns non-NCA EAOs. Therefore, they need to participate in this process. All stakeholders need to discuss how to achieve the basic principles of a democratic federal union as soon as possible,” Comrade Than Khe said.

The NCA-signatory EAOs are the ABSDF, the PNLO, the Karen National Union, the Chin National Front, the KNU/KNLA Peace Council, the Arakan Liberation Party, the Restoration Council of Shan State, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army–Brigade 5, the New Mon State Party and the Lahu Democratic Union.