The United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), an umbrella organisation of ethnic armed groups, is to hold an official meeting with the National League for Democracy (NLD) and other Burmese pro-democracy groups for the first time.
The meeting has been scheduled for 29- 30 August in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand. Joining the NLD for talks with the UNFC will be leading members of the United Nationalities Alliance and the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society, as well as elected representatives from the 1990 general elections.
The conference will focus on democratic and ethnic equality issues, said Nyi Pu, an NLD Central Executive Committee member who is due to attend Friday’s parlay.
UNFC Joint-secretary Col. Khun Okker said the UNFC would explain the decisions and future plans that came from its internal conference in Chiang Mai earlier in the week.
“We are keen to study the discussion points from the UNFC conference,” said Mya Aye of the 88GPOS. “We believe the UNFC is working in the best interests of the country.”
Considered a big brother to the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), the UNFC is an alliance of ethnic parties which are united in their support for the formation of a federal union in Burma. Its main members are the Kachin Independence Organisation, New Mon State Party, Shan State Army- North, Karen National Union, Karenni National Progressive Party and Chin National Front.
On 18 August, UNFC leaders Nai Hongsa, Gen. Gun Maw, Col. Khun Okker and Tun Zaw had an informal meeting with NLD Chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi at her home in Rangoon where they reportedly exchanged opinions about the ongoing peace process and the situation in parliament.
Several of the UNFC leaders are also members of the NCCT, which has sat for five rounds of talks with the Burmese government in recent months, as both sides thrash out terms aimed at pushing through a comprehensive nationwide ceasefire agreement.