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Wa, Mongla groups ‘accept’ nationwide ceasefire accord: govt peacemaker

Bao Youxiang, leader of the United Wa State Army, is seen during a meeting of leaders of Burma’s ethnic armed groups at the UWSA headquarters in Panghsang, Shan State, on 6 May 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

A member of the government’s Peace Commission has said the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), the latter also known as the “Mongla group,” accept the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, an accord that the two influential ethnic armed groups had previously spurned.

“With the support of the Chinese government, the Peace Commission has had informal meetings with the ethnic armed groups,” the Peace Commission official, Aung Soe, told DVB. “Based on the discussions we have had, both groups accept the NCA [Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement]. When it comes to signing the NCA, we will have to hold more negotiations.”

The UWSA and the NDAA are among seven groups that had signalled that they would reject the terms of the NCA last year. To date, the agreement has 10 signatories and was the product of years of negotiations initiated under the previous quasi-civilian government headed by former President Thein Sein.

The Peace Commission has vowed to convince the two ethnic armed groups to ultimately sign the NCA.

“We do not oppose the NCA. We want to hold more discussions on the NCA since we perceive it is not comprehensive enough. We are not against the NCA,” said Kyi Myint, a spokesman for the NDAA.

Along with the NDAA and the UWSA, five other ethnic armed groups met in April 2017 in Panghsang, the Shan State headquarters of the Wa army. The Kachin Independence Army, the Arakan Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, the Shan State Army-North and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army were also present.

They went on to form an umbrella coalition known as the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee. The collective’s opposition to the NCA framework has been considered a key stumbling block to ongoing efforts to bring an end to the country’s numerous civil conflicts. The grouping has heretofore designated the UWSA — Burma’s largest ethnic armed group — to lead the way to a different path to peace.