Myanmar to form new conflict negotiation arm

New conflict negotiation arm to be formed

The Myanmar government is planning a new organization to negotiate with ethnic armed groups.

The new Peace Secretariat will hold dialogues with armed groups that are signatories to the 2015 Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, U Zaw Htay, director general of the Presidents’ Office, told reporters on September 10. He said the details are still under discussion, but the body will include both experts and government officials.

Currently, the Peace Commission of the National Reconciliation and Peace Committee (NRPC), usually handles such negotiations. It was set up by the NLD government in 2016. The committee has planned meetings with members of the Northern Alliance, which includes five ethnic armed organizations (EAO). The meetings’ objective was to end the fighting that has raged in Shan State since mid August. However, since its inception, EAOs, civil society groups and media have criticized NRPC for inefficient and slow negotiation processes. The current conflict is no exception. Peace talks are happening in fits and starts, despite pressure from China to end the fighting and stabilize border trade.

In July, an officer of the KIO (a member of the Northern Alliance) told BNI that the NRPC’s negotiation style was worse than its predecessor, the Myanmar Peace Center. The source said the NRPC was rigid and heavy-handed in its demands. It was comparable to the early regime of General Ne Win, whose tyrannical policies kept the country mired in civil war.

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