Govt may repeal Shan army’s ‘unlawful’ status

File photo of SSA-S soldiers on parade on Shan Resistance Day at their headquarters in Loi Taleng, February 2011. (PHOTO: Francis Wade)
The Burmese government reportedly told a Shan State Army South (SSA-S) delegation on Thursday that they will repeal the ethnic armed group’s status as an unlawful association if they agree to a nationwide ceasefire.

According to Sai La, an SSA-S spokesman, the Shan militia has negotiated with government peace negotiators about a plan to facilitate political dialogue, a process that will come after a ceasefire agreement has been reached.

“The government delegation said they expect to sign a nationwide ceasefire agreement in August this year, and to facilitate political dialogue before the elections in 2015, preferably at the beginning of the year,” he told DVB.

He added that both groups discussed an incident in early May, when a local official of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy – a dominant Shan political party — in eastern Shan State’s Kengtung was detained by the Burmese army and charged under the Unlawful Association Act for an alleged connection with the SSA-S.

Both sides also discussed a raid on the SSA-S office in late May by the Burmese army, a move that the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) – the armed group’s political wing – considered an extreme breach of trust. Government negotiators assured them during the meeting that the action took place due to a misunderstanding.

Besides the meeting with the RCSS, the government delegation also held meetings with the ethnic political groups Kachin Independence Organisation and Karen National Union.

The RCSS is not a member of the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), a group of 17 ethnic armed groups in Burma tasked with negotiating with the government’s Union Peace Working Committee to come to a nationwide ceasefire agreement. Burma has experienced decades of civil war between the government and its ethnic armed groups, and in recent years, both sides have sought to resolve lingering issues. However, the negotiation process has been marred with clashes in the various states between the armed groups and Burmese government forces.

By NAW NOREEN (DVB)

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