The powerful Wa army will host a summit of ethnic armed organizations this week in Pangkham (Pangsang), the capital of the Wa self-administered zone. The meeting is the third such summit to be hosted by the United Wa State Army (UWSA).
From February 21 to 23, ethnic armed organizations – mainly non-signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) – have been invited to discuss the state of the peace process and the ongoing offensives, according to the Colonel Nyo Tun Aung, deputy commander-in-chief of the Arakan Army (AA).
“We can say that is necessary to hold the summit due to current politics, armed conflicts and other situations. It is a follow-up summit because it [the United Wa State Party] held [similar summits] before,” he said.
The Network Media Group tried to contact the UWSP/UWSA for the further details about the Pangkham summit, but requests for comment were not returned.
The Northern Alliance – a four-group coalition – and some members of the United Nationalities Federation Council (UNFC) – a seven-member ethnic bloc – have been invited to the summit, according to the AA colonel.
Col Nyo Tun Aung added that he is not sure whether NCA-signatory groups were also invited.
“What I know is that they have invited us, the four Northern Alliance groups, including the KIA [Kachin Independence Army], the TNLA [Ta’ang National Liberation Army], the MNDAA [Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army] and the AA [Arakan Army]. They also invite some members of the DPN [Delegation for Political Negotiation]. But others from the DPN have not gotten invitations yet, so it is hard to tell how they determined the invitations,” he said.
Each invited ethnic armed group may send two-three representatives to the summit.
The UWSA held similar summits in Pangkham in May 2015 and November 2015.
The UWSA, considered the largest ethnic armed organization in the country, has signed a bilateral ceasefire, but has not joined the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. Some analysts have suggested that as the UWSP/UWSA already has its own enclave in Shan State, the group fears joining the pact would result in a deterioration of its current arrangement. The UWSA has maintained that under its current ceasefire, it does not see the need for the additional NCA.
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who is also chair of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC), recently reiterated her call for all non-signatory groups to ink the NCA.
Although the second Union Peace Conference – dubbed the 21st-Century Panglong Conference – was initially scheduled for the end of this month, the conference was postponed until March, largely due to disagreements over who could attend and what role the non-signatories would have at the meeting.
Translated by Aong Jaeneh
Edited by by Laignee Barron for BNI