Leaders of Myanmar’s armed ethnic groups will discuss solutions for ending current fighting in the country’s turbulent western and northern border regions when they meet for a summit on Friday to consider a permanent nationwide peace plan, according to those who will participate in the meeting.
Representatives from the 12 of the country’s armed ethnic groups will attend the conference on May 1-3 at United Wa State Army (UWSA) headquarters in northern Shan state to try to end the fighting between government troops and three ethnic armies—the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) in Shan state’s Kokang region, the Arakan Army in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state, and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army in northern Shan state—to ensure it does not scuttle a preliminary nationwide peace agreement.
“We will talk about the current political situation and our views on peacemaking, Kwe Htoo Win, general-secretary of the Karen National Union (KNU), told RFA’s Myanmar Service. “We will also discuss how to work to stop the current fighting. We can’t say we are building peace while we have fighting in the country.”
Although the organizers have not fixed the topics to be discussed, they will hold the summit with the aims of achieving lasting peace in the entire country, stopping the fighting between the government army and ethnic armed groups, and holding political talks, said Aung Myint, USWA spokesman.
“There is no group that doesn’t want peace,” he said.
Tun Myat Lin, MNDAA spokesman, said he would attend the summit along with the armed rebel group’s commander-in-chief and vice commander- in-chief.
“We are going to talk about the problems those have occurred in our region,” he said.
Colonel Sai La, spokesman of the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) and its military wing the Shan State Army-South (SSA-S), said the representatives would discuss a nationwide cease-fire, national reconciliation and peace with other armed ethnic groups.
“We hope we can work together to do these things,” he said.
The summit comes about a month after the government and 16 armed ethnic groups signed a draft of the cease-fire agreement, which would end more than six decades of civil wars in Myanmar.
The government has said it wants a nationwide ceasefire in place before national parliamentary elections scheduled for late October or early November this year.
Reported by Kyaw Thu and Khin Khin Ei of RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.