ENAC Briefing No. 14
23 February 2016
— On February 22nd in Chiang Mai, Thailand, the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) met with the Union Peacemaking Working Committee (UPWC), led by the group’s Vice Chairman U Aung Min. In his opening remarks, U Aung Min said President Thein Sein sent him to meet the non-signatory EAOs to discuss the signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA); he said the president was sorry that only eight groups signed. U Aung Min stressed the importance of the role of the military in the peace process and conflict resolution.
The UNFC continued to seek the all-inclusive peace process that includes the Arakan Army (AA), the Palaung State Liberation Front/Ta’ang National Liberation Army (PSLF/TNLA), and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA). The UPWC said it would try to talk separately with the three groups, but it could not guarantee their inclusion in the NCA. The UPWC said the goal is to be all-inclusive, but to achieve this goal will require them to treat groups differently. U Aung Min, who lost in the last election, and his team expressed a sense of urgency and would like to push the process forward in the remaining 40 days of their term. While urging the UNFC to propose what it wants in the next 40 days period, the UPWC team remained firm on the exclusion of the AA, PSLF/TNLA, and MNDAA.
The UPWC team reviewed the achievements of the peace process so far and urged the UNFC to not impede this progress by refusing to sign the NCA within the term of President Thein Sein, who has portrayed himself as a peacemaker and would like to leave a legacy as such.
The UPWC also implied that the National League for Democracy (NLD) is ill equipped to lead the peace process and is overwhelmed with forming a new government. The NLD has to consult with the military on matters concerning the peace process and seek the military’s recommendations. Furthermore, the NLD may not be able to prioritize the peace process because it will have to answer first to the desires of the public. Additionally, the new government will not be able to work much in April because it is the month of Buddhist New Year. Based on these statements, the UPWC was essentially informing the non-signatories that NLD would not be as able to address their needs as well as the current government; accordingly, if the non-signatories decide to move forward, they should do it now.
There has been speculation that the incoming government is unlikely to use the Myanmar Peace Center (MPC), a broker for the UPWC, in the peace process. Seeing their future in question, the UPWC team, which is comprised of members from the MPC, seemed to assert their roles as if the peace process could not continue without them.
Initially the UPWC team was not willing to meet the non-signatories collectively as UNFC, wishing instead to meet them individually. The UNFC, however, maintained that non-signatories would only meet UPWC as a united group. The UNFC team, led by Nai Han Tha, consisted of Khu Oo Reh, Gen. Sumlut Gun Maw, Gen. Sao Sai Htoo, Col. Solomon, U Twan Zaw, Dr. Khin Maung, Ta Nyi Lu, Nai Shwe Thein, and Nai Ron Tin. The UPWC team consisted of U Aung Min, U Khin Zaw Oo, U Tin Maung Than, U Hla Maung Shwe, U Aung Naing Oo, Dr. Kyaw Yin Hlaing and U Nyo Un Myin.