Thursday, 14 November 2019

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SSA-South to enter peace talks

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Burmese government and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), the political wing of the Shan State Army-South (SSA-S), have agreed to commence peace talks, according to a RCSS statement.  

Shan State Army-South troops stand for inspection. Photo: MizzimaThe breakthrough stems from a letter dated 18 August in which Burmese President Thein Sein informed that his government desired to enter peace talks with the Shan rebels. Earlier this month the SSA-S agreed in principle to sit down with Burmese government counterparts.  

RCSS spokesperson Sao Lao Hseng said in response to the decision to enter talks, “We have not yet set a date for talking. We are still discussing on the date.”  

In circulating a statement informing of the decision to enter talks, the RCSS is aiming to both collect the opinions of Shan people and inform the people as to their intentions.  

A Shan migrant worker in Chiang Mai, Thailand, voiced, “If we can create peace, it will be good for the Shan State people because we might be able to go back home.”  

"Judging from its approaches toward opposition armed and unarmed groups,” added a Shan activist in Chiang Mai, “Thein Sein's government wants to change. However, they must release the Shan political prisoners to show their sincerity.”    

Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Sao Yawd Serk of the SSA-S, and leader of the RCSS, said, “Thein Sein is interested to talk about peace, and it is good to have peace.”     

Previously, the SSA-S and Burmese government failed to implement ceasefires talks after the sides could not agree on a location for the talks. The government favoured Tachileik, a Burmese town in Shan State on the border with Thailand, while the SSA-S insisted on Mae Sai, the Thai town opposite Tachileik in Chiang Rai province.  

However,  Yawd Serk now confirms, “As long as [the Burmese government] can guarantee security and safety, we can hold the talks [in Tachileik].”   

The Burmese government recently released Sao Hso Ten, a Major General with the Shan State Army – North (SSA-N), as part of a presidential amnesty. Many observers interpreted his release as an attempt to woo the SSA-N to return to the table for ceasefire talks.  

In May of this year the SSA-S and SSA-N declared that the two Shan rebel groups had united in their fight against the central government.  

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