By Naw Noreen
Ethnic armed groups that are not signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) on Tuesday kicked off a meeting at the United Wa State Army’s Panghsang headquarters as a spokesperson for one of the groups lamented a “stagnation” in Burma’s peace process.
The three-day meeting, hosted by the country’s largest ethnic armed group, will conclude on Thursday and is being attended by delegations from NCA non-signatories including the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Arakan Army, Kachin Independence Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and a renegade faction of the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army led by Saw San Aung.
TNLA spokesperson Mong Aik Kyaw told DVB this week’s gathering marked the third meeting of the NCA non-signatory groups, with the agenda focussing on issues surrounding Burma’s peace process, including ongoing conflict between some of the ethnic armed groups in attendance and government troops.
“We have had a couple meetings in Panghsang prior to this, to discuss the political environment concerning the ethnic armed groups. The latest meeting aims to talk about a stagnation in the peace process and the continuation of hostilities; an increase in the Burmese Army’s offensives in ethnic regions,” said Mong Aik Kyaw.
The meeting at the UWSA headquarters in Shancomes about a week after it was announced that the second iteration of the 21st Century Panglong Conference — the National League for Democracy government-branded high-level peace forum — would be delayed. Originally due to convene on 28 February, the summit has been pushed back to sometime in March.
It is not yet clear whether NCA non-signatories will be invited to attend the conference. Only eight out of approximately 20 non-stated armed groups involved in the NCA negotiating process — or in active conflict with the government — have signed the accord.