Two major alliances of ethnic armed groups are set to meet in Pangkham, the headquarters of the United Wa State Army, this week, according to an ethnic leader. The meeting comes amid increased pressure on ethnic armed organizations to sign the nationwide ceasefire agreement, and as alliances are fracturing along the lines of who appears ready to join the pact, and who does not.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Network Media Group that a delegation from the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) led by the chair Nai Hong Sar was en route to Pangkham as of August 22.
The Federal Political Negotiation Consultative Committee (FPNCC), a separate, new coalition led by the UWSA, has been holding its first plenary meeting since August 18. At the meeting, the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army-North, announced that it sent a resignation letter to the UNFC. The UNFC’s membership has dwindled to just four groups after two others – the Kachin Independent Army (KIA) and the Wa National Organization (WNO) – also resigned in April. Both the KIA and the SSPP are members of the Federal Political Negotiation Consultative Committee.
The UWSA sent a last-minute invite to the UNFC, asking them on August 20 to join the plenary meeting as soon as possible. According to the source, the UNFC members reportedly left the next day.
Nai Hong Sar is accompanied by Major General Bee Htoo, leader of the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) and U Tun Zaw, the UNFC’s joint general secretary. The two alliances are expected to discuss cooperation among ethnic armed organizations, according to the ethnic leader.
In July, following the UNFC’s central executive committee meeting, the council’s spokesperson Nai Aung Ma Nge told the press that the UNFC planned to meet with the northern allied groups – the FPNCC – in order to work together on the peace processes.
“We will cooperate in whatever [areas] we can cooperate in. Both of us are working for ethnic rights. We may not follow the same path, but our goal is the same, so there are many areas where we can cooperate,” Nai Aung Ma Nge said.
The UNFC is currently engaged in negotiations with the government’s Peace Commission to settle on preconditions before signing the nationwide ceasefire agreement.
The FPNCC meanwhile has not met with the government negotiators since a meeting held on the sidelines of the second session of the Union Peace Conference, also known as the 21st Century Panglong Conference, in May. The FPNCC has rejected the NCA, and says it will forge its own path to peace.