The government extended an invitation through Kachin Peace-Talk Creation Group (PCG) to resume peace talks with the Northern Alliance through online conferencing, after discussions with the ethnic armed coalition has been suspended since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Duwa Lamai Gum Ja, with PCG, told KNG he doesn’t think peace negotiations online will work for the different armed groups in the alliance. “It’s inconvenient for them to join an online conference. It’s also difficult to meet in person during the COVID-19 pandemic because wherever they go, they’ll have to stay at the facility quarantine for 21 days,” he says.
Duwa Lamai Gum Ja says talks should wait until the pandemic is over.
The last time the government and the Northern Alliance sat down together was in January during an informal meeting in Kunming, a Chinese city in Yunnan province. Since the beginning of the pandemic, all peace negotiations have ceased.
KNG contacted the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) for comment, but no-one responded.
Arakan Army (AA) spokesperson Khine Thukha told Radio Free Asia that they preferred to meet in person for talks rather than online.
According to the Mon News Agency, signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement proposed to the government to hold a fourth round of the 21st century Panglong Conference in August.
Hkawn Ja, of the Kachin Peace Network, says: “If the government has the political will to make a lasting peace, they’ll find a way to do it.” But she cautioned if they use the conference to further their political agenda they won’t achieve lasting peace.
The Burma Army announced a unilateral ceasefire until August 31 everywhere in the country except in Rakhine and Chin states, where it is fighting with AA.
This month, fighting broke out between Tatmadaw and members of the Northern Alliance in northern Shan State.
The Northern Alliance—KIO, AA, Ta’ang National Liberation Army, and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army— announced an extension of its unilateral ceasefire until August 31.