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Govt urges ethnic bloc to sign ceasefire

Talks between the government's Peace Commission and the UNFC on 23 October 2017 (PHOTO: DVB)

The Burmese government’s Peace Commission has urged the four remaining members of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) to join the peace process laid out by the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).

Speaking at the seventh round of talks between the two sides on Monday morning, Thein Zaw, vice chairperson of the Peace Commission, said that “once the UNFC is on the NCA path and is negotiating with the other parties involved, it can amend the things they do not want. There is nothing to be concerned about.”

In response, Khu Oo Reh, a spokesperson for the UNFC’s negotiating team, said, “Although 15 months have passed since our 8-point proposal was made, the Tatmadaw [Burmese military] has still not agreed to some of the points. That’s why we have not come into the NCA fold yet.”

UNFC representatives did not attend a second anniversary of the NCA event hosted by the government and the military in Naypyidaw on 15 October due to the impasse.

The government has indicated that it is hoping to have non-signatories such as the UNFC sign the NCA ahead of the 3rd Panglong Conference in December.

Following the resignation of the Shan State Progress Party in August, the UNFC now consists of just four ethnic armed groups—the New Mon State Party, the Karenni National Progressive Party, the Lahu Democratic Union, and the Arakan National Council. None is signatory to the NCA.

In April, the Kachin Independence Army and the Wa National Organization also left the UNFC, which was made up of 12 members when it was founded in 2011.