The Burmese government’s peace commission canceled a bilateral ceasefire proposed with four members of the Northern Alliance of ethnic armed groups, citing clashes with the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army (AA) in Rakhine State.
The decision was made during an informal meeting between representatives from the peace commission and the Northern Alliance in Kunming, in China’s Yunnan Province, last week.
Members of the delegation from the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO)—a Northern Alliance member present in the meeting—told KNG that the retired Lt-Gen Khin Zaw Oo, the peace commission secretary, had explained that the terms of the ceasefire were not viable since the AA attacked four police stations in Rakhine State’s Buthidaung Township in January. The AA is also a Northern Alliance member.
“We—all the individual members in the alliance—were prepared to sign a bilateral ceasefire agreement with the government,” a KIO official in Laiza told KNG.
It had been the Northern Alliance’s preference that each member group sign the bilateral ceasefire agreement at the same time in the same venue. The government reportedly rejected this plan, but, according to the Peace-talk Creation Group’s (PCG) Lamai Gum Ja, the government representatives “promised that they would submit the alliance’s bilateral ceasefire plan to the government and military.”
The remaining members of the alliance therefore refused to sign a Deed of Commitment (DoC) prepared by the peace commission for the meeting, which Lamai Gum Ja described as “a small disagreement,” because the alliance “wanted to sign the ceasefire agreement collectively and individually.”
“We rejected the signing of the government-proposed Deed of Commitment which was directly related to the AA’s January 4 attack,” the KIO official explained.
Representatives of the AA, KIO, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army attended the Kunming informal meeting on February 25. Also in attendance was peace commission vice chairperson U Thein Zaw, in addition to Lt-Gen Khin Zaw Oo.
Another issue that the peace commission said they would discuss with the government was the safe return of internally displaced communities in Kachin State, which Lamai Gum Ja said the KIO had wanted to talk about in the meeting.
No further meetings between the two entities have been scheduled, but Kachin sources say further talks are likely to be held in April, before the end of the Burma Army’s four-month unilateral ceasefire in five regional command territories.