A press conference on the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and Lahu Democratic Union (LDU) signing the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) was held yesterday afternoon at Myanmar International Convention Center-2 (MICC-II).
At the press conference Union Peace Implementation Department Director-General U Zaw Htay, Peace Commission’s secretary U Khin Zaw Oo, Lt-Gen Tin Maung Win, Nai Aung Mangae of NMSP and Navis Bon of LDU replied the questions raised by journalists.
In his brief explanation about NCA, U Khin Zaw Oo said Peace Commission and Delegation for Political Negotiation (DPN) of United Nationalities Federation Council (UNFC) held a total of 18 meetings, 9 formal meetings and 9 informal meetings within an 18 months period. Meetings were also held periodically with ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) remains to sign the NCA.
Replying to a question on EAOs remaining to sign the NCA, U Khin Zaw Oo said “If asked whether other groups can sign the NCA in 2018, I will have to say yes. I can’t say which group but there are many possibilities of more groups signing the NCA. We still have more than 10 months left and we’ll negotiate to reach a consensus.”
On the matter of Arakan National Council (ANC) unable to sign, U Zaw Htay said “We were negotiating with them until the evening of 11th. ANC, LDU and WNO were permitted by (former) President U Thein Sein to attend the peace conference directly without signing the NCA. During the present government, they came in with UNFC group. We negotiated with ANC to sign the NCA until the last minute. But when the time comes to sign the NCA, ANC didn’t come along.”
With regards to status of holding the Union Peace Conference-21st Century Panglong 3rd session U Zaw Htay said “Peace Process Steering Team (PPST) consisting of EAOs that had signed had said the peace conference will be held after national level political dialogues were conducted. We are having informal meetings with Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) to hold national level political dialogues and once this issue is resolved, the conference can be held. In their negotiation with the State Counsellor, NMSP requested one thing. They’ll sign the NCA and after signing it, they want sufficient time to participate in the conference. NMSP will hold national level political dialogues. Only after this, the conference will be held. RCSS is also striving toward holding the national level political dialogues.”
On the status of holding UPDJC meeting, U Khin Zaw Oo said the UPDJC will start in the coming few days. Holding national level political dialogues will be discussed. We will also continue to work with groups who are unable to hold national level political dialogues. Once this part is done, Union Peace Conference can be held. Rakhine is in a different situation so national level political dialogues can’t be started there yet. We were also meeting with eight groups that had signed the NCA informally said U Khin Zaw Oo.
Adding on to this subject, U Zaw Htay said “UPDJC meeting will be held for NMSP to hold national level political dialogues. The original plan was to sign today, UPDJC secretariat meeting to be called on 14th. UPDJC meeting is to be held on 15th. We proposed this but this is not possible for the other side so we’ll start the UPDJC in the coming few days.”
Commenting on the fighting in northern Myanmar, Lt-Gen Tin Maung Win said “We already explained that there is no reason for Tatmadaw to conduct an offensive. If EAOs stay in their assigned places, there wouldn’t be any problem. Promises and pledges were made. But if those are not kept and the life and properties of the people are affected, Tatmadaw will have to act. We are not conducting an offensive.”
Nai Aung Mangae of NMSP said it will assist other EAOs that hadn’t signed the NCA into signing the NCA. He said “Our NMSP will take the path of NCA. We will urge the remaining groups to participate. NCA is not only a ceasefire but a path toward establishing a federal union. We’ll tell this to the others. We’ll approach and appeal to the northern groups as well as the Tatmadaw.”
U Zaw Htay then spoke about signing a bilateral agreement with Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP). He said a bilateral agreement had been reached with KNPP. Peace process with KNPP will be a stand-alone. It was not possible to do this with ANC. We provided many opportunities to them. ANC didn’t have an armed organization. Only two groups are left in UNFC. KNPP will be on a bilateral basis. ANC may be difficult to sign the NCA anymore. But they can participate in the peace process in some other way said U Zaw Htay.
Responding to the matter of Tatamadaw not allowing public meetings at national level political dialogues in Shan State Lt-Gen Tin Maung Win said “RCSS was permitted to conduct national level political dialogues in Langkho. But public meetings were not permitted. It was learnt later that this was conducted with the permission of the Shan State government. However, it was not according to ToR and that is why it was not permitted. We have said repeatedly in UPDJC meetings to hold the national level political dialogues in designated places only.”
On LDU being not permitted to hold national level political dialogues U Zaw Htay said “ANC and LDU don’t have areas like ABSDF. That is why they are not permitted to hold national level political dialogues. LDU accept this. ANC didn’t accept this and thus they didn’t sign.”