By NYAN HLAING LYNN | FRONTIER
NAY PYI TAW — Seven ethnic armed groups have said they will not sign a peace agreement with the government in its current form, but will instead form a committee to establish a new approach to the peace process.
The statement was made on the final day of a three-day meeting hosted by the United Wa State Army at their headquarters in Panghsang last week.
It was signed by the UWSA, as well as the Kachin Independence Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, the Arakan Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, the Shan State Army-North and the National Democratic Alliance Army, the latter which is also known as the Mong La group.
The statement called for a new ceasefire agreement to be signed, the formation of a genuine Federal Union based on bilateral agreements made with the former military government, an end to Tatmadaw offensives in ethnic minority regions and the start of a political dialogue on an all-inclusive basis.
The statement also demanded that the member groups of the Northern Alliance, which launched attacks on Tatmadaw outposts in the north of the country in November, not be classified as terrorist groups. Such a proposal was rejected in the Union parliament, but passed in the Shan State Hluttaw in early December.
Regarding development, in the statement the groups said they support China’s “One Belt One Road” policy that the groups say will be beneficial to the ethnic minority groups. The statement did not elaborate on the project but said the ethnic armed groups would guarantee the security of foreign investment in the area.
In a significant political outcome from last week’s meeting, the general policy of the UWSA — which was included in a 29-page document at the 21st Century Panglong Union Peace Conference in August last year — would be adopted by the other ethnic armed groups.
The government has not officially responded to the new proposal, but during the interval of a civil society meeting in Nay Pyi Taw on February 24, U Thein Zaw, deputy chairman of the Peace Commission, said negotiations with the UWSA were still ongoing.
The Panghsang meeting took place ahead of the 2nd 21st Century Panglong Union Peace Conference, which was originally scheduled to take place on February 28 but has since been rescheduled to late March.