Myanmar Peace Centre team to meet ethnic armed groups in Chiang Mai

Senior adviser at Myanmar Peace Centre, U Hla Maung Shwe (left),  together with ethnic armed group peace negotiators Nai Hong Sa and Dr Salai Lian Hmung Sakhong,  speaks at a press conference on the national ceasefire accord at the MPC in Yangon in March.
Senior adviser at Myanmar Peace Centre, U Hla Maung Shwe (left), together with ethnic armed group peace negotiators Nai Hong Sa and Dr Salai Lian Hmung Sakhong, speaks at a press conference on the national ceasefire accord at the MPC in Yangon in March.

A working group of the Myanmar Peace Centre will meet representatives from ethnic armed organizations in Chiang Mai on Thursday following the latter’s unexpected rejection of the draft National Ceasefire Agreement, MPC team leader U Hla Maung Shwe said.
Leaders of 17 ethnic armed groups concluded a summit Tuesday in Law Khee Lar, Kayin State, at which they dealt a blow to the government’s peace plan by deciding not to sign the NCA until further amendments are made and all armed groups are included in the signing process.
“We will meet them this evening and informal discussions are due for tomorrow,” U Hla Maung Shwe told The Global New Light of Myanmar by phone Wednesday before leaving for Thailand.
The discussions will be the first meeting between MPC advisers, who have provided advice and technical support to the government’s peace negotiating team, and a new 15-member high-level nationwide ceasefire coordinating team formed at the Law Khee Lar summit.
“I don’t know who will be present at the meeting from the ethnic side,” U Hla Maung said, adding that his team will report to the government’s Union Peace-making Work Committee on progress made at the meeting.
“It is up to the UPWC to decide whether peace negotiations continue and what happens next,” he said.
Ethnic representatives at the meeting are expected to send back the amended peace draft to the government for further negotiations.
According to a statement on the 2-9 June summit released Tuesday, leaders of participating armed groups decided not to sign the draft nationwide ceasefire accord without the inclusion of all groups. They agreed on a set of proposed amendments to the draft National Ceasefire Accord.
The ethnic armed groups formed a new 15-member high-level nationwide ceasefire coordinating team to finalize the ceasefire deal with the government side.
According to sources, the newly-formed negotiating team is comprised of 10 new members from the participating armed groups and five former NCCT peace negotiators, including Nai Hong Sar, Maj-Gen Guan Maw and Dr Salai Lian Hmung Sakhong. It is led by Naw Zipporah Sein, deputy chair of the Karen National Union, with Dr La Ja, general secretary of the Kachin Independence Organization, and Pu Zing Cung, of the Chin National Front, serving as deputies.
In late March, the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team, representing 16 ethnic armed groups, and the government’s Union Peace-making Work Committee signed and approved the draft accord in Yangon.
Since the signing of the NCA, the government has indicated its readiness to officially sign the accord as soon as possible, while the NCCT has stated that it first needed to be put before the Law Khee Lar summit.
Mr. Vijay Nambiar, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s special advisor on Myanmar who was present at the Law Khee Lar Summit, also called on ethnic leaders to implement a ceasefire and start political dialogue as soon as possible in his address on the opening of the summit.
Regarding the summit’s failure to achieve final approval on the draft NCA, as well as the formation of a new negotiating team by ethnic armed groups, U Hla Maung Shwe expressed his view that the ethnic armed groups had not taken the smartest approach to achieving peace.

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