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Ahead of a ceremony on 15 October to mark the second anniversary of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), a leading member of the negotiating team for the eight signatories to the accord has called for the Burmese government to do more to move the peace process along.
“We understand that the government has a lot of issues to resolve, in particular the Arakan Crisis. However, the peace process should be its priority. It should not be delayed because of other issues,” said Col. Khun Okker, a prominent member of the signatories’ Peace Process Steering Team (PPST) and a veteran of the Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO).
Khun Okker said that a meeting between government representatives and delegates of the eight NCA signatories will take place tomorrow in Naypyidaw to set the agenda for Sunday’s ceremony.
He said that, as it stands, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, and Chairman of Karen National Union (KNU) Mutu Say Poe are slated to give speeches at the ceremony.
“[The outcome of] Sunday’s ceremony could affect the peace process and the third session of the Panglong Conference. That’s why it is an important meeting for us,” said Khun Okker.
The third session of the Union Peace Conference, informally dubbed by Suu Kyi the 21st Century Panglong Conference, is due to be held during the second week of December. Several ethnic groups that are non-signatories to the NCA are also invited to attend.
Speaking to DVB this morning, Khun Okker said that representatives of the eight ceasefire groups expect to meet State Counsellor Suu Kyi after the event on 15 October.
There has been speculation that the remaining four members of the ethnic alliance known as the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) – New Mon State Party, Karenni National Progressive Party, Lahu Democratic Union, and Arakan National Council – would sign the NCA at the upcoming ceremony in Naypyidaw.
DVB was unable to reach any senior member of the UNFC for comment; however PPST spokesperson Khun Okker said that the four ethnic groups have not had time to discuss strategy towards the NCA since a meeting with the government’s peace commission due to take place last week in Chiang Mai, Thailand, was cancelled.
“Some UNFC members have told me that the signing of the NCA cannot take place because they have not had enough time to discuss the matter,” he said.