Continued peace negotiations between the government and representatives of an ethnic alliance have been delayed, likely until next month, according to an official.
“Both of us are too busy to meet this month. We haven’t been able to negotiate a date yet," said Nai Aung Ma Nge, information officer at the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), a bloc representing four ethnic armed groups.
The government's Peace Commission and the UNFC's Delegation for Political Negotiation (DPN) have been inching closer to an agreement on preconditions ahead of signing the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA).
Ethnic armed groups have come under increased pressure to sign the NCA. No additional groups have joined the pact since the initial eight signed in 2015 under then-President U Thein Sein's administration.
Several members of the UNFC have resigned, including the groups currently engaged in fighting, amid the ongoing NCA negotiations. The bloc started out with 11 members in 2011 and now includes just the New Mon State Party, the Karenni National Progressive Party, the Lahu Democratic Union and the Arakan National Council.
Last month, the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army - South became the latest group to submit its resignation notice. The Kachin Independence Army resigned in April. Both groups are part of the newly created Federal Political Negotiation Consultative Committee, an alliance of organizations fighting in Shan and Kachin states and led by the United Wa State Army, Myanmar's most powerful ethnic armed group. The FPNCC has demanded an alternative to the NCA.
Nai Aung Ma Nge said the delay to ceasefire negotiations this month was not due to disagreements, but to scheduling conflicts.
An official from the Peace Commission confirmed that both sides are still engaged and trying to fix a date for the meeting.
“The leaders from both sides are still negotiating,” said the official.
The Peace Commission and the DPN held their sixth meeting at the National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC) in Yangon last month. According to the UNFC, both sides have agreed on four out of eight precondition terms.