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.
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.”