Representatives from the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) said at a meeting in Rangoon that there was still “a way to go” with negotiations between ethnic armed groups and the government over a nationwide ceasefire agreement.
The secretary of the UNFC, Nai Hongsa, told DVB he had concerns over a government proposal that suggested the ethnic armies would have to disarm and disband after signing a ceasefire.
“The government indicated a plan to disband us after signing the ceasefire agreement,” Nai Hongsa said.
“But from our side, we have our security concerns and also we have a wish to establish a genuine union army. So we still have quite a lot to negotiate to reach a deal on this.”
Nai Hongsa made the comments at a meeting between the UNFC and the United Nationalities Alliance (UNA) – a coalition made up of ethnic political parties – in Rangoon.
In Laiza, Kachin state in November 2013, ethnic groups called for the creation of a federal army, saying it would be essential if a federal union were established.
During the talks in Rangoon, Nai Hongsa said there had been improvements in cooperation between the government and the UNFC. He said the government was providing logistical assistance so the ethnic armies could attend ceasefire talks.
“The government has been helpful with our meetings and very encouraging to all armed groups. We see this as a very positive improvement,” he said.
The UNFC’s negotiation team, the Nationwide ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) met on 8-9 March with representatives from the government’s Internal Peace Making Working Committee where they reached an agreement to form a joint-committee to finalise the drafting of a nationwide ceasefire agreement.
Disarmament and the prospect of federal armies is a major issue in the peace process but there is still a lot to negotiate before any deal can be reached.