The Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) has pledged to assist the government’s negotiation team, the Union Peace-Making Work Committee (UPWC), to achieve the signing of a nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) by the end of June 2015.
A meeting was spearheaded by President’s Office Minister Aung Min and RCSS/SSA Gen. Yawd Serk on 29 May in Chiang Mai, said Hla Maung Shwe from Myanmar Peace Center.
“It is important to have the NCA signed in time. Minister U Aung Min also urged to try to have it signed in time. The RCSS said they would try their best,” said Hla Maung Shwe.
Though not a member of the ethnic bloc’s Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), the government has invited the RCSS to send representatives to future talks between the NCCT and UPWC.
Sai La confirmed that his group would attend a future conference.
“As the signing of an NCA is important, [the UPWC] asked us to go and participate [in future talks]. We told the government team we would like to see a statement released by the ethnic armed groups after they have free discussions by themselves. And that after that, we will work on what the government wants us to do,” he said.
The agreement comes as reports of villagers fleeing the RCSS/SSA’s new round of recruitments emerge.
Khun Tamoung, secretary of Namsan Pa-O Literature and Culture Organisation, told DVB that the RCSS/SSA, or Shan State Army-South, was recruiting near Namsan Township in southern parts of Shan State.
According to Khun Tamoung, six villages in the area were sent letters demanding new army recruits by late May.
“What we heard is that the RCSS/SSA is being led by U Nandar. They are wearing guerilla uniforms with the tiger head patches. They told the elders to send [the recruits] by 22 May at the latest. And they threatened to arrest people if they tried to flee. But all the villagers fled anyway.”
RCSS spokesperson Sai La rejected the accusations.
“We don’t wear the white tiger insignia. We do not ask people to join our group against their will. We discuss it with village leaders to ensure that those who want to join can sign up,” he said.
A summit between leaders of ethnic armed groups is scheduled to take place from the 2 to 6 June at the Karen National Union headquarters in Law Khee La. A post-ceasefire political framework is expected to be discussed at the meeting.