Tatmadaw softens stand towards three armed groups

In a significant move, the Tatmadaw has relaxed its attitude towards the participation of three armed ethnic groups in the national peace conference planned for later this month, media reports said.

The softening of the Tatmadaw’s stand towards the ethnic Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and its allies, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army and the Arakan Army, comes amid intense efforts to ensure the Panglong 21st century peace conference is inclusive.

The Tatmadaw had previously insisted on the surrender of the three groups before they could join the talks but a military negotiator told Reuters the army would accept a statement of their “political willingness to abandon their weapons”.

The Tatmadaw had relaxed its demand because the three groups had shown “they really want peace,” U Khin Zaw Oo, a member of the Myanmar Peace Commission, told Reuters on August 4.

The retired lieutenant general said meetings would be held soon with the three groups to discuss conditions for their participation in the Panglong 2st century peace conference, the newsagency reported.

Support more independent journalism like this. Sign up to be a Frontier member.

The three groups fought the Tatmadaw last year during a failed attempt by the MNDAA to regain control of the Kokang region in Shan State on the border with China. Because of Tatmadaw opposition they were excluded from the so-called Nationwide Peace Agreement signed last October by eight armed groups. Some of the nation’s biggest armed ethnic groups, including the Kachin Independence Army and United Wa State Army, refused to sign the agreement.

Khin Zaw Oo said the military had relaxed its stand “because we want all of them to be included” in the peace conference.

The Tatmadaw and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi shared the same goal of ending armed conflict before the next election in 2020, he said.

“We are working toward democracy,” he told Reuters. “That’s why we want to see all armed groups enter politics together, with no armed conflict.”

More stories

Latest Issue

Stories in this issue
Myanmar enters 2021 with more friends than foes
The early delivery of vaccines is one of the many boons of the country’s geopolitics, but to really take advantage, Myanmar must bury the legacy of its isolationist past.
Will the Kayin BGF go quietly?
The Kayin State Border Guard Force has come under intense pressure from the Tatmadaw over its extensive, controversial business interests and there’s concern the ultimatum could trigger fresh hostilities in one of the country’s most war-torn areas.

Support our independent journalism and get exclusive behind-the-scenes content and analysis

Stay on top of Myanmar current affairs with our Daily Briefing and Media Monitor newsletters.

Sign up for our Frontier Fridays newsletter. It’s a free weekly round-up featuring the most important events shaping Myanmar