By Eleven | 23 April 2015
Deputy Secretary Aung Myint of the Central Office of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) announced that only 12 ethnic armed groups will attend the Ethnic Armed Forces Summit this year.
The summit will be held on May 1 in Panghsang, Shan State. The summit organisers sent invitations to only 12 ethnic organisations and said no other groups will be invited.
When asked who will attend the summit the summit, Aung Myint said: “The delegates will be those who hold the top positions — chairpeople, vice-chairpeople, colonels and the like. Of course, this includes their secretaries and staff."
The following 12 groups were invited to the summit: Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO/KIA), Karen National Union (KNU), Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), Pa-Oh National Liberation Organisation (PNLO), New Mon-State Party (NMSP), UWSA, Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF/TNLA), Arakan Army (AA), Shan State Progressive Party (SSPP/SSA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA).
PNLO chairman Khun Myint Tun said: “[The organisers] told us this event is as per the suggestion of our brother armed forces who are also fighting for independence. They will be receiving support from KIO and NDAA in organising this event. One party brings three representatives, those holding high positions. The main point of discussion will be finding a path to nationwide peace."
Chairman Khun Myint Tun, Vice-chairman and Chief of Staff Col Khun Thurein and Deputy Chief of Staff Lt-Col Khun Mann will represent the PNLO at the summit.
The UWSA chose to invite only 12 groups, even though the NCCT has advised them to include more groups in the summit. Only 9 of the 16 NCCT member groups received invitations.
The seven groups that were not part invited are: Chin National Front (CNF), Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), KNU's Peace Council, Lahu Democratic Union (LDU), Wa National Organisation (WNO), Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) and Arakan National Council (ANC).
The All Burma Student's Democratic Front (ABSDF) and Naga group, which currently have a ceasefire with the government, were also not invited.
"NCCT will be invited as representative of their group which means not every member of the NCCT will be invited. ABSDF was not invited because at their core, they do not represent an ethnicity. You can think about it that way. As for DKBA and the peace council, since it was stated before that since (KNU) is the mother group, only KNU is necessary to attend. Lahu and ANC can been taken as not invited due to no decisions so far from the government on ceasefire with them. But it interests me as to why ALP and CNF were not invited. It became something to think about. I have never heard of any trouble at all between the Wa people and Chin people. Chins, Nagas and Wa people are close together. If Naga is not in the picture at all then we need to think about why the groups from areas bordering India are left out. This is just my opinion. ALP is based very close to India. CNF is situated between India and Bangladesh. The other one is Naga. It might be true or not true but as far as one can think, groups from western side of Myanmar were all not invited," said an inside source from the ethnic armed forces.
Although there are still battles as well as no talks of ceasefire yet between the government, MNDAA and AA, they were invited.
The local and international news media that are to be allowed to cover the summit will be released some time later, according to Aung Myint.