Ten ethnic armed organizations that have signed Myanmar’s nationwide peace accord will hold a third summit in northern Thailand to discuss points agreed to during the government’s most recent round of peace talks and a strategy for moving forward to end seven decades of civil war with the national military.
Representatives from all 10 signatory armies will attend the four-day summit in Chiang Mai, according to Khine Soe Naing Aung, vice chairman of the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), who participated in a meeting of the Peace Process Steering Team (PPST) in the Thai city on Thursday.
“We are still discussing where and when we will hold it,” he told RFA’s Myanmar Service, though an announcement on the ethnic armed groups’ website said the summit will take place on Sept. 8-11.
The PPST, comprising leaders of the signatories of Myanmar’s nationwide cease-fire agreement (NCA), formed two teams in April to hold informal discussions with the government on political and security issues.
PPST leader General Mutu Say Poe, who is chairman of the Karen National Union (KNU), gave the opening speech at the gathering, urging participants at the upcoming summit to discuss the results of the third round of the government’s key peace initiative known as the 21st-Century Panglong Conference.
He also said that the groups should work on a solution that addresses differences among them and discuss their future plans.
The 10 NCA-signatory groups will also consider a framework for political dialogue and discuss issues regarding ethnic armies that have not signed the NCA, the online news service Mizzima reported.
At the third session of the Panglong Conference in July, Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi called for patience and a new strategic vision to build a peace framework to end civil war in the country.
The round concluded with 14 agreements in principle, adding to 37 points of accord reached at the previous peace talks session in May 2017.
Of the 14 basic principles agreed to by 700 delegates over six days, seven covered social issues, four were in the political sector, one involved the economy, and two addressed land matters. But no agreement was reached on the security sector, where the powerful national military and the ethnic militias remain at odds.
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 NCA in October 2015, while the last two signed the accord in February 2018.
Representatives of three ethnic armies that have not signed the NCA met briefly for the first time with Myanmar government peace negotiators in southwest China’s Kunming on Wednesday, though the outcome did not yield much in the way of specific proposals.
The three groups — the Arakan Army (AA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) — have not signed the NCA because of ongoing hostilities with the national army.
The ethnic armed groups say they seek a federated state in which they coexist as equals with the ethnic Bamar majority.
Reported by Kyaw Lwin Oo for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.