Thai military objection scuttles NCA signatory meeting in Chiang Mai

By NAW BETTY HAN | FRONTIER

YANGON — A meeting in Thailand of signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement was cancelled after the military attaché at the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok complained to the Thai military, a senior official with the Karen National Union said on Monday.

KNU general secretary Padoh Saw Ta Doh Moo said the meeting of the Peace Process Steering Team, which comprises ethnic armed groups that have signed the NCA, was due to be held in the northern city of Chiang Mai on June 8 and 9.

He said the Thai military had objected to the meeting after receiving a letter of complaint dated June 7 from the attaché Brigadier-General Khin Zaw.

“We heard that the reason for objecting is that the non-signatory groups, the KIA and the KNPP, could be joining the PPST meeting, but they could not join it, in reality,” Ta Doh Moo told Frontier, referring to the Kachin Independence Army and the Karenni National Progressive Party. “The Tatmadaw and the government should give signatories and non-signatories of the NCA a chance to meet to move the peace process forward,” he said.

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In his letter addressed to Colonel Pattana Punmongkol, named as director of the foreign liaison division of the Royal Thai Army, Khin Zaw said in English that the PPST meeting “would definitely disrupt the NCA peace process which is still under implementation of Myanmar government and Myanmar Armed Forces to be able to restore eternal peace to the country”. He requested that the Thai military “collaborate” to “obstruct” the meeting.

Tatmadaw True News team spokesperson Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun confirmed that Khin Zaw had sent the letter to the Thai military but added that he had not been asked to do so by the Tatmadaw.

“This is the mandate of the Myanmar attaché; if he considered that the meeting might disrupt the peace process, he could object to it,” Zaw Min Tun said.

The NCA was hailed by some as a breakthrough when it was signed in October 2015 by the KNU, All Burma Students’ Democratic Front, Arakan Liberation Party, Chin National Front, Democratic Karen Benevolent Army, Karen National Liberation Army-Peace Council, Pa-O National Liberation Organisation, and Restoration Council of Shan State.

However, several of the largest ethnic armed groups, such as the KIA and the United Wa State Army, have not signed the agreement. Since 2015 only two groups, the New Mon State Party and the Lahu Democratic Union, have signed, bringing the number of NCA signatories to 10 when they acceded in February 2018.

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