UNFC vows to hold on

Members of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) that are parties to last month’s “Panghsang Pact” have decided to hang on together, despite the uncertainty of continued membership by its two strongest members, according to the alliance’s secretary general Khu Oo Reh.

Khu Oo Reh, the general secretary of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) and the Vice Chairman of the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

 Speaking to the Peace Process Working Committee (PPWC), the implementation body of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) signatory organizations yesterday, he said, “Whether or not the KIO (Kachin Independence Organization) and the SSPP (Shan State Progress Party) continue to be part of us, remaining members have decided not to dissolve the UNFC. We will work together with other EAOs (Ethnic Armed Organizations) to seek a way out. We will consider other options only if our present resolution doesn’t work out.”

Other possible options, according to discussions at the meeting held at Chiangmai Orchid Hotel, are:
·        The return of KIO and SSPP back to the fold
·        The merger with the Panghsang Pact
·        Dissolution

The 22-24 February Panghsang summit, hosted by the United Wa State Army (UWSA) considered the strongest of all existing EAOs, had rejected the NCA and resolved to seek a new path for peace. Both the KIO/KIA and the SSPP/SSA had participated in the event. Only the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) and the New Mon State Party (NMSP), also invited, chose to stay behind.

Other remaining UNFC members are Arakan National Council (ANC), Lahu Democratic Union (LDU) and Wa National Organization (WNO). The three, considered as non-combatant groups, were disallowed by the previous government to sign the NCA, but invited to take part in the political dialogues. All three had rejected the offer, demanding that they be accepted as signatories instead.

The meeting, which lasted from 09:00-12:30, resolved to hold a joint strategic planning meeting early next month.

The long-delayed UNFC Congress, due to be held 23 March, has been postponed until June, to await for final decisions from the KIO and SSPP.

“If the KIO chooses to stay with the Panghsang Pact, it may be welcomed by the pro-Chinese elements,” said a Thai observer. “But if it continues to remain in the UNFC, it may be welcomed by pro-West elements.”

The SSPP meanwhile is dependent on the UWSA for arms and ammo to defend itself against continued harassments and attacks by the Burma Army. “Its heart may be with the UNFC,” said the same Thai observer. “But its immediate needs are with the Wa.”

 By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)


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