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Tatmadaw Hijack Burma’s Failing Peace Process

The Tatmadaw informed the Peace-talks Creation Group (PCG) that all future peace talks with ethnic armed organizations (EAO) will be handled through its Peace Negotiation Committee, since the National League for Democracy’s (NLD) Reconciliation and Peace Center has been dismantled.

Lamai Gum Ja, from the PCG in Myitkyina, received a phone call from the head of the Northern Command on February 2, the day after the Burma Army launched a coup against the NLD. He said the Kachin Independence Organization/Army (KIO/A) and other members of the Northern Alliance were aware of the policy change but haven’t issued statements at this time.

The Tatmadaw formed the committee on November 9, the day after polls closed for the 2020 general election, which the NLD won the majority of seats. Lt-Gen Yar Pyae was appointed the head of the five person team. Two more names were added to the committee the same day the Army took over the government.

Based on how the Tatmadaw responded during KIO/A’s previous ceasefire, Lamai Gum Ja speculated that political dialogue will be off the table when the EAOs meet with the committee.

After inking its 1994 ceasefire with the junta, the KIO/A was promised political talks would be forthcoming but it never happened. “At that time, they said they were a military regime and therefore wouldn’t discuss political issues,” he said. The KIO/A were instructed to take the matter up after a new government was elected following the drafting of a constitution.

“Now that they have seized power of the country again in my opinion the same situation could be repeated,” Lamai Gum Ja said, adding that they’ll have to wait and see what actually happens.

After the NLD won the 2015 general election, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi established the Reconciliation and Peace Center, which was remodeled from the Myanmar Peace Center under the Thein Sein government.

Despite multiple meetings and peace conferences with EAOs and Tatmadaw, the NRPC failed to resolve the conflicts plaguing the South East nation for decades. During the NLD’s five-year tenure, many civilians were uprooted by fighting. There are still nearly 100,000 Kachin civilians displaced by the war between the Burma Army and KIO/A who have been unable to return to their villages or be resettled to other areas.

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