Ethnic Leaders Predict New Govt Will Improve Peace Relations

By Network Media Group
Monday, December 28, 2020

Some ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) in Burma expect more cooperation among peace stakeholders after the National League for Democracy (NLD) resumes its place in office next March.

“With the overwhelming support of the people, NLD is free to implement its policies,” Col Khun Okker, patron of the Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO), told NMG. “We’ll cooperate fully with them, and I believe the Burma Army will do the same. The Tatmadaw has already formed its negotiation team, he explained, so “they’re trying to move one step forward.”

“In my view, we can all work together in the coming five-year term with less disagreement among stakeholders.”

According to Col Khun Okker, relations between the Burma Army and civilians during the last five years were not good. It was also poor between the government and Army, as well as with the EAOs, resulting in little progress with the peace progress. “If the government, Burma Army and EAOs want peace, I think it’s entirely possible. But if their motivations are different, it won’t happen.” Although he hopes things will stabilize across the country, Col Khun Okker predicted some conflict erupting in Burma in the next five year term.

Lt-Gen Yar Pyae is leading the Burma Army’s new negotiating committee.

In early December, the Burma Army met with the Arakan Army at the headquarters of the United Wa State Party/Army, in Panghsang, northern Shan State. The NLD held a conference call with the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) around the same time.

KNPP Vice-Chair Khu Oo Reh predicted for peace negotiations to begin soon. “In my view, both the government and the Burma Army want to resume the peace process quickly after the formation of the new government.” The Tatmadaw’s negotiation team was formed with old members, he said, while the government is likely to reform its National Reconciliation and Peace Committee.

While the government and Tatmadaw are getting ready for 2021, the 10 EAOs that are signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) have formed their own 10-member negotiation team to meet for initial consultations as early as next month.

Lamai Gum Ja, a member of the Peace-Talk Creation Group, based in Kachin State’s capital, Myitkyina, said if the government and Burma Army invite the non-NCA armed organizations to the table for negotiations it’s likely they’ll join.

Although armed conflict has dramatically decreased in most areas of the country (with the exception of Rakhine State) some political analysts and ethnic leaders told NMG that the peace process moved much slower in the last five years than under the previous Thein Sein government.