Seven of Myanmar’s ethnic armed groups formed a new committee on Wednesday to hold collective talks with the government in anticipation of the next round of nationwide peace negotiations.
Representatives from the Kachin Independence Organization/Kachin Independence Army (KIO/KIA), Arakan Army (AA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA), National Democratic Alliance Army- Eastern Shan State (NDAA-ESS), and United Wa State Army (UWSA) attended the meeting in Pangkham, the administrative capital of the UWSA-controlled territory in Myanmar.
The militias changed the name of the Political Dialogue Committee they had formed to hold talks with the government to the Union Political Negotiation Dialogue Committee, according to a statement issued by the groups after their five-day meeting.
The ethnic armed groups also agreed not to hold individual talks with the government, but rather to hold them through the new committee.
The statement also said that the militias had approved a general policy and position on peace negotiations during the meeting.
The UWSA—the largest nonstate army in Myanmar—submitted a report at the meeting on resolving difficulties in the peace process, the statement said.
The Union Political Negotiation Dialogue Committee will send the report, which all seven militias approved, to the central government, it said.
The government under de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi held the first round of nationwide peace talks, known as the 21st-century Panglong Conference, late last August in an effort to end decades of ethnic separatist civil wars.
But the government has twice postponed the second round of talks originally scheduled for February as fighting between ethnic militias and the national army continue in the northern and eastern parts of the country.
Eight other ethnic armed groups have already signed a nationwide cease-fire agreement with the government, which wants all ethnic militias to sign the pact in order to participate in political dialogue.
Reported by RFA’s Myanmar service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.