UNFC signals no trust between ethnic armed groups and govt peace negotiators

  • Written by N.M.G
  • Published in N.M.G

Negotiations over signing the nationwide ceasefire agreement are still at an impasse, with the leader of an ethnic armed alliance claiming at the most recent meeting this week that zero confidence has been built between the government and the ethnic armed groups.

Khu Oo Reh, who helms the Delegation for Political Negotiation and is vice chair of the Karenni National Progressive Party, said during his speech preceding negotiations in Yangon on August 10 that despite 14 months of discussions there is no mutual trust.

The DPN and the government’s Peace Commission are meeting in Yangon for the sixth round of talks.

Khu Oo Reh also said that no agreement will be reached about the NCA if every point of concern is not addressed and resolved. The United Nationalities Federal Council, the ethnic umbrella alliance represented in negotiations by the DPN, has issued an eight-point list of preconditions to be met before its members will individually assess signing the pact.

“I have heard about news reports that said there are only one or two points left to negotiate. Some said there are three or four points left. No matter how many points are left, if we can’t agree on a single point, it means there is no agreement on all eight points,” said Khu Oo Reh.

He insisted that the DPN and the Peace Commission go through every point in detail during the talks to ensure both sides agree, rather than negotiating only the remaining points.

“Otherwise, there could be complications whenever we meet again. We shouldn’t have to re-negotiate on a single word. I believe backtracking has been costing us delays instead of moving us forward,” he said.

The Peace Commission and the DPN met to work through stumbling blocs about the framework for political dialogue and reviewing the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee (JMC) and its inclusion, or not, of international monitoring members.

U Tin Myo Win, chair of the Peace Commission, said that the meeting should focus on remaining sticking points rather than rehashing old issues.

“State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi believes we will be able to follow our peace process to completion. She firmly believes all representatives [of this meeting] can join the third session of the 21st-Century Peace Conference after signing [the NCA],” he said.