Ethnic politicians call for guarantees ahead of NCA signing

Several ethnic politicians have voiced the opinion that the Burmese government must offer greater guarantees if ethnic armed groups are to sign the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA), and say such proposals must be laid out at the second round of peace talks which are scheduled to be held in mid-March.

The United Wa State Army (UWSA) soldiers march on the 20th anniversary in the Headquarters Pangsang in 2009.

Sai Kyaw Nyunt, one of the joint general secretaries of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) who also serves as the secretary of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC), said, “The ethnic groups have been cheated for more than 60 years. That’s why we always have doubts. For us to sign the NCA, we must have solid promises.”

He emphasized that all sides need to talk and build trust with one and other at the upcoming peace talks in Naypyidaw, widely dubbed the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference, or 21CPC.

“I want all political parties and ethnic armed groups to attend this upcoming 21st Century Panglong Conference,” said Mon National Party (MNP) Chairman Nai Ngwe Thein. “Those who are responsible [for logistics] should ensure this happens. They should also consider what decisions can be made at this meeting.”

The ethnic Mon leader said that armed conflict is ongoing at a time when they are trying to building peace; therefore, suspicions and doubts must exist on all sides. He called on the Burmese Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hliang to bring about an end to the fighting.

Nai Ngwe Thein said that if the Tatmadaw [Burmese military] declared a cessation of hostilities, then the ethnic groups would follow suit.

According to Saw Kyi Lin, the general secretary of the Phalon-Sawaw Democratic Party (Myanmar) based in Karen State capital Hpa-an, it is impossible for just one side to stop the conflict. He said both warring parties must meet to talk peace.

To date, only eight ethnic armed groups that have signed the NCA: Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA); Karen National Union (KNU); Democratic Karen Benevolent Party (DKBA); Karen National Liberation Party-Peace Council (KNLA-PC); Chin National Front (CNF); All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF); Pa-O National Liberation Party (PNLA); and Arakan Liberation Party (ALP).

Another 13 ethnic armies are included in the talks but are yet to sign the accord.

By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)