Peace conference in Myanmar with ethnic guerrillas ends without progress
Yangon, Myanmar, Aug 21 (efe-epa).- The fourth round of the peace conference between the Myanmar government and ethnic guerrillas ended Friday without any truce or agreement signed with any new armed group.
The three-day conference, held at the capital of Naypyidaw, was chaired by the country’s de facto ruler Aung San Suu Kyi, concluded with two months to go for the general elections in the country.
Government spokesperson Zaw Htay, addressing a press conference at the conclusion of the talks, said apparently some groups want to wait for the results of the upcoming elections before deciding to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).
Meanwhile, Armed Forces chief General Min Aung Hlaing blamed the guerrillas for obstructing the peace process initiated by Suu Kyi and accused them of being dishonest and of opposing the unity of the country and its successive governments.
Nationwide peace has been one of the main objectives of Aung San Suu Kyi since assuming power in 2016. She has continued the process initiated by her predecessor, former general Thein Sein, who became president in 2011 after nearly five decades of military dictatorship.
Since Myanmar’s independence in 1948, dozens of guerrillas have fought the army in the quest for greater autonomy, the main demand of almost all ethnic minorities. These groups are based mainly in the peripheral regions of the country and together represent more than 30 percent of its 53 million inhabitants.
Almost immediately after assuming the post of State Councilor, making her the country’s de facto leader, Suu Kyi organized the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference, honoring the “Panglong Accord” her father Aung San, father of Burmese independence, signed in 1947 with representatives of three ethnic minorities months before being assassinated.
The peace process has lost momentum in recent years, and only two of the 21 armed organizations participating in the peace process have signed the ceasefire during Suu Kyi’s tenure, compared to eight during her predecessor’s term.
One of the greatest obstacles to the peace process has been the autonomy enjoyed by the army, given that the 2008 constitution designed by the military junta places it outside the control of any civilian government.
Moreover, the fourth round of the peace process under Suu Kyi was not attended by some of the most important armed organizations that are yet to sign the NCA.
The seven guerrillas of the Federal Policy Negotiating Consultative Committee (FPNCC) had announced that they would not attend the conference because one of its members, the Arakan Army, designated a “terrorist organization” in February, had been excluded. It has been engaged in a fierce war with the army in the western state of Arakan that has escalated since January last year.
Members of the FPNCC include the Wa State Unity Army (UWSA), the largest in the country that is practically an independent mini-state – although it ceased hostilities with the army three decades ago after reaching an unofficial agreement – and the Army of Independence Kachin (KIA), the second-largest, at war since a 17-year truce collapsed in 2011. EFE-EPA