Delegates from the Pa-O National Liberation Organisation (PNLO) and the Shan State Army-South/ Restoration Council of Shan State (SSA-RCSS) failed to find an agreement on a territory dispute during a day of talks at the SSA headquarters in Loi Taileng on 11 September.
The meeting followed a clash between the militias around the village of Nong Ton Ki in Mauk Mae Township, Shan State, on 3 September.
Speaking to DVB this weekend, SSA-RCSS spokesperson Second General Officer Sai Ngin said the two sides had agreed to sit for another round of talks.
“We made two agreements: first, to solve these land disputes peacefully; and second, for our top leaders to sit face to face again in the near future,” he said. “It seems there are issues outstanding that cannot be compromised right now. Both sides will have to negotiate. We also need to discuss the matter within our group. It appears the government kind of handed over the Mauk Mae area to them. In our opinion, this is our land.”
He said that both sides discussed agreements that were made in 2007, according to which the PNLO can operate west of Pun Chaung while the SSA operates east of that town. However, matters are more complicated now because the Pa-O have moved several camps east of the agreed demarcation, the Shan army spokesman said.
Both sides pledged not to use violence to settle the dispute, he said.
PNLO President Hkun Okker said that even if an agreement is made, Pa-O commanders are under instructions to shoot at any SSA soldiers who get too close or try to surround the disputed Nong Ton Ki area.
He said that Aung Min, the vice-president of Union Peace-making Work Committee, had authorised the Pa-O to build 114 houses in the disputed area, of which 30 had already been constructed.
Last week’s negotiations were led by SSA/RCSS Vice-president (1) Gen. Sai Yee and the PNLO’s Khun Myint Tun.
Representatives of the Karenni National Progressive Party and the United Wa State Army, who attended the talks, urged both sides to resolve the dispute peacefully, said SSA’s Sai Ngin.
The President’s Office has reportedly sent a letter urging both ethnic armed groups to resolve the matter peacefully.