Myanmar: Northern rebels want China as peace negotiator

Rebel groups reach out after army brings major town under control

Myanmar: Northern rebels want China as peace negotiator

World Bulletin / News Desk

Four rebel groups in Myanmar’s restive Shan State called on China on Monday to mediate to end clashes after the government claimed that a major town had been brought under army control.

A joint statement by the combined forces of the Northern Alliance demanded the military stop its offensives immediately and withdraw troops from ethnic areas across the whole country.

“As most of the fresh fighting is on the Myanmar-China border area, we want the Chinese government's prompt mediation for an end to fighting and to bring border stability,” it said.

It added that the alliance was ready to end fighting so fair and genuine political negotiations with the government could take place.

On Sunday, the government announced that the strategic town of Mongkoe in northeastern Shan, which had been under attack by rebels for two weeks, had been brought under control.

The State Counselor's Office Information Committee said that the combined forces of the Northern Alliance -- the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and Arakan Army (AA) -- had withdrawn from the area after government troops fought back using military helicopters and heavy weapons.

In their statement, the rebels urged the government to declare a national-level ceasefire to end armed conflict in Shan which erupted Nov. 20 when the four rebel groups jointly attacked military checkpoints, police stations and a trade zone on the country’s eastern border with China.

Since then, 14 people have died in the area, around 50 have been injured, and thousands have been displaced -- some 3,000 fleeing to China to escape the fighting.

Last week, Myanmar and China discussed the ongoing fighting in the area, the main trade corridor for the two countries.

A nine-member Myanmar delegation led by Peace Commission chair Tin Myo Win met Chinese senior officials including Foreign Ministry Wang Yi in Beijing during a seven-day visit.

The groups involved in the clashes did not sign up to last year's government-sponsored Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).

Last month, Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi urged the groups to join the peace process, saying the government “is keeping the peace door open to welcome all relevant stakeholders for participation”.

“In order to immediately end the armed conflict in north-east Shan State, I strongly urge the armed groups to join the peace process by signing the NCA,” State Counselor Suu Kyi said in a Nov. 24 statement.

Suu Kyi warned the rebels that taking up arms to solve political issues only “causes protracted armed conflicts”, with people in affected regions suffering and lagging behind the economic development enjoyed by neighbors.

“Arms will not resolve the issues nor bring about the desired goals of the people,” she said, describing talks as the only way to end armed conflicts countrywide and establish “perpetual peace”.

Myanmar is set to hold a second meeting of the Union Peace Conference -- dubbed the 21st Century Panlong Conference -- in January 2017.

Last Mod: 05 Aralık 2016, 12:15
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