Ten ethnic armed organizations that have signed Myanmar’s nationwide peace accord wrapped up their third summit in northern Thailand on Tuesday, agreeing that leaders from government, the national military, and ethnic armies should meet soon for talks to try to overcome obstacles to the country’s peace process.
The 49 top officials from the 10 groups who attended the conference issued a statement on the final day of the summit in Chiang Mai, saying that they will continue efforts to engage in talks with the military and government about federal policies, such as holding further rounds of key peace negotiations.
They also said they will continue pushing for a federal democratic union in Myanmar, under which ethnic minority groups have rights equal to those of the Bamar majority.
The 10 groups, collectively known as Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement-Signatories, Ethnic Armed Organizations (NCA-S EAO), are the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF); Arakan Liberation Party (ALP); Chin National Front (CNF); Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA); Karen National Union (KNU); KNU/Karen National Liberation Army-Peace Council (KNU/KNLA-PC); The Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO); Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS); New Mon State Party (NMSP); and Lahu Democratic Union (LDU).
The first eight groups signed the government’s nationwide cease-fire agreement (NCA) in October 2015, while the last two signed the accord in February 2018.
The Peace Process Steering Team (PPST), comprising leaders of the signatories of Myanmar’s nationwide cease-fire agreement (NCA), will pursue meetings with leaders from government, Myanmar military, and other ethnic armed groups, the statement said.
Representatives from the NMSP and LDU officially became members of the PPST at the summit and will participate in future discussions with officials from the government and national military.
The ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) government has held three rounds of its key peace initiative known as the 21st-Century Panglong Conference since August 2016.
At the third session in July, Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi called for a new strategic vision to build a peace framework to end seven decades of civil war between the national military and ethnic armed groups.
To date, the parties to the talks have agreed on 51 basic principles involving the political sector, the economy, and land matters. They have yet to reach an accord on the security sector, where the powerful national military and the ethnic militias remain at odds.
Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.