Myanmar’s military and 10 ethnic armed groups agreed to hold bilateral meetings during the state-level Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee (JMC-S) meetings to discuss the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), amidst hopes of a renewed peace process between the groups.
The military and armed groups have assented to meet individually to talk over troop deployments and territorial boundaries proposed in the NCA.
U Zaw Htay, spokesperson of the President’s Office, told a press conference after the meeting, “We discussed our worries and difficulties, and were able to reach an agreement,” and that the parameters set at the meeting would be used to mediate any armed conflicts.
Disagreements over troop deployments and territorial boundaries have caused conflict in the past between armed groups and Myanmar’s military - known as the Tatmadaw - sometimes resulting in armed clashes.
Last year, the peace process and the fourth Panglong were deferred due to disagreements. Which caused the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), the two largest NCA signatories, to suspend their participation in the peace process in 2018. Both have since agreed to participate in the fourth Panglong.
Naing Aung Ma Ngay, secretary of the New Mon State Party, said “Working committees from both sides agreed to hold the JMC-S and bilateral meetings in the last week of September,” and “the JMC will monitor any agreements reached on territorial boundaries and military activities”.
On August 13th, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the leaders of the 10 ethnic armed groups will convene to set the agenda for the fourth session of the Union Peace Conference - 21st Century Panglong in Nay Pyi Taw from August 19-21. This will take place at the top-level Joint Implementation Coordination Meeting (JICM).
The objective for the fourth Panglong is to find a sustainable solution to the decades-long conflicts between the ethnic armed groups and the Myanmar government.