Sunday, 17 November 2019

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SSA-S accepts Burmese government’s offer to start peace talks


Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – A spokesman for the Shan State Army-South (SSA-S) says it has accepted the Burmese government’s offer to engage in peace talks.

SSA-S spokesman Major Sai Lao Hseng said the location and the time for the talks have not been set.

Soldiers of the Shan State Army–South on parade.  Photo: Mizzima“At first, they sounded us out,” Major Sai Lao Hseng said. “We replied that if they officially offered to begin peace talks, we would be ready to meet with them. We have said that we are willing to use peaceful ways to solve the problems.”
 
In August, President Thein Sein announced that ethnic armed groups that want peace should talk with the respective state or regional governments.
 
On the other hand, the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) spokesman Major Sai Hla said that the government had not offered to engage in peace talks with the SSA-N.
 
In July, during the fighting between Burmese government troops and SSA-N troops in the area near the SSA-N Wanhai headquarters, the government sent two Buddhist monks as representatives to discuss holding talks with the government.
 
The SSA-N replied that it would meet with government representatives as an initial step, but regarding talks about a cease-fire and politics, it would only meet with the central government as a member of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), which is comprised of six ethnic member-groups that have united to negotiate with the government as a single alliance.
 
Major Sai Hla said that SSA-N Battalion 25 under Brigade No. 1 last week helped a member of the alliance, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) Brigade No. 4, fight against government troops in the KIO area. Two soldiers of SSA-N were killed in the fighting in Mongton.
 
Both the SSA-N and KIO are members of UNFC that aims to cooperate in resisting government’s political pressure and military offensives. Major Sai Hla said that the SSA-N was ready to help the KIO if Burmese government troops had launched a military offensive against the KIO.  
 
“If fighting occurs, we are not alone,” he said. “The UNFC, as a whole group, is likely to fight [against government troops].”

Recently, UNFC Genera-Secretary Nai Han Thar said the Burmese government was determined to drive a wedge between the ethnic armed groups by demanding that they talk to negotiating teams separately.

Nai Han Thar told Mizzima: “They may think that if the ethnic groups are united, the demands will be greater. It seems that they want to avoid holding political dialogue. They want only a cease-fire. They are trying to divide ethnic forces because they want to rule the country for the long term. In other words, they want the ethnic groups to be weak.”
 
On October 1, a delegation led by Thein Zaw, the chairman of National Races and Internal Peacekeeping Committee and secretary 2 of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, and the leaders of United Wa State Party held a meeting, but government negotiators rejected some key Wa demands.  
 
Meanwhile, government representatives met with the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) (aka) Mong La group this week to discuss peace. The meetings are expected to continue within a few days.
 

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