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Monday’s meeting in northern Thailand between the armed Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) and the Burmese government’s Peace-making Work Committee ended without the sides reaching any accord.
The news is a setback for Naypyidaw’s hopes that the meeting would set the stage for union-level ceasefire talks at a later date.
Khaing Soe Naing Aung, the deputy-chairman of the ALP, said that the Chiang Mai meeting was the fourth time that the Arakan militia had sat down for negotiations with a government delegation since agreeing a state-level ceasefire deal in April 2012, but said that there have been no developments since.
“The government negotiators said they would only discuss certain issues after we signed a union-level ceasefire agreement in October,” he said.
“They cited the Arakanese– Bengali [Rohingya] riots as a reason for not yet meeting the demands we made during the first and second meetings – to allow us business privileges; opening a liaison office; and a demarcation agreement – just like the deals they made with other groups.
“However they insisted that peace and calm are restored to the region before this can go ahead,” said Khaing Soe Naing Aung who led the ALP delegation alongside Saw Mra Raza Lin. The government team was headed by President’s Office Minister Aung Min and Immigration Minister Khin Yi.
The ALP and the government signed a state-level ceasefire deal on 5 April 2012, under a five-point plan: work toward an end to the conflict; open ALP liaison offices in Paletwa, southern Chin state, and Kyauktaw in Arakan; demarcation of boundaries; informing each other when armed group members travel or make incursions into the other’s territory; and a provision that talks continue as a step toward an eventual peace process.
The ALP, which is the leading ethnic militia in Arakan, has been fighting for greater autonomy and rights in Burma since the 1970s.