The Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) is not working, say seven ethnic armed groups based in the north of Burma.
That’s the message emerging from a 15- 19 April meeting held in Panghsang, the headquarters of the Wa army. The seven ethnic rebel groups represented at the talks were: United Wa Solidarity Army (UWSA); Kachin Independence Army (KIA); Arakan Army (AA); Ta-ang National Liberation Front (TNLA); Shan State Army- North (SSA-N); Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA- Kokang group); and National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA- Mongla group).
None of the seven are signatories to the ceasefire accord, which was signed in October 2015 between eight ethnic armed groups and the Burmese government.
Speaking to DVB at the conclusion of the four-day meeting in Panghsang, the secretary of the TNLA, Brig-Gen Ta Phone Kyaw, said, “The main point here is to ask, ‘Why is the fighting still going on?’
“We discussed practical measures aimed at halting the conflicts. But the principal cause of war is politics. So we must consider how to resolve the political impasses.
“Until now, the NCA process has been nothing but time-consuming. It does not work on a pragmatic basis for either the Tatmadaw [Burmese armed forces] or ourselves. We need to find a new way. We need to stop the hostilities as soon as we can.
“We [the seven] have agreed on basic policies among us, and that we will meet with Burmese government delegates. But we will not discuss the NCA. This ceasefire accord is just not working, I believe.”
The seven militias released a statement yesterday, saying that they had formed a committee to negotiate with the government, but that the groups would not meet for talks individually.
The statement said the new committee would be known as the “Union Political Negotiating Dialogue Committee,” and that its express mandate was to engage in dialogue with Naypyidaw.
Ta Phone Kyaw told DVB that a record of all the decisions taken at the Panghsang conference would be forwarded to the government.