All ethnic armed groups should be included in the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), according to Nai Hongsa, the vice-chairman of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), which is due to sit for talks with Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi on 1 March.
“No [armed] group should be left out. The NCA requires full participation,” said Nai Hongsa, who in addition to being a respected ethnic Mon leader has also been one of the main negotiators for the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team, which has represented ethnic demands during the peace process initiated during the former Thein Sein presidency.
“Also, the talks should be held in a tripartite setting [government and military; ethnic groups; political parties] as we previously agreed [at Maijayang in July 2016], and to further strengthen the NCA, there should also be international witnesses,” said Nai Hongsa.
He said that the UNFC will raise these matters at the upcoming meeting with Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi in her capacity as chairperson of the 21st Century Panglong Conference, or 21CPC, the widely used moniker for the current round of peace talks.
Nai Hongsa said that UNFC would like to consolidate consensus on the nine demands it has consistently tabled; those include: assurances of a federal union; a newly drafted constitution based on agreements from the 21CPC; and to increase the international role in the peace process.
Sai Kyaw Nyunt, the secretary of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee, or UPDJC, said that the Suu Kyi government must be in a position to respond to the demands and say whether it will accept them.
“The government side must state clearly whether they can accept the points raised by UNFC or to what extent they can accept them – 50 percent or whatever,” he said.
After meeting with Suu Kyi on 1 March, the UNFC delegation is due to hold talks with the government-backed Myanmar Peace Commission.