Monday, September 25, 2017

UNFC to elect new chair and central committee members

Members of the United Nationalities Federal Council will elect new chairperson and central committee members during the conference that kicks off today in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The conference will be held into two parts – first is UNFC’s internal conference and second is its meeting with other non-signatory and signatory armed ethnic groups to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.

The agenda on the table for the meeting of UNFC include the resignation of KIA from the ethnic political bloc and the membership application of new ethnic groups.

U Twan Zaw, joint general secretary of the UNFC and member of Arakan National Council said the conference would review the tasks carried out in past two years and to set plans of the ethnic bloc for the future.

“We are selecting new chairperson and central committee by votes. We will also review our policy and the ethnic bloc’s constitution,” he said.

The current chairperson is Gen N’ Ban La, vice president of Kachin Independence Organization.

After joining the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee that is led by United Wa State Army, the strongest armed ethnic group in Myanmar, KIO has decided to leave the UNFC. Wa National Organization, another member, withdrew membership, too last month. The resignations of the KIO and WNO will also be discussed during the meeting.

FPNCC represents the ethnic armed groups operating in northern part of Myanmar in Kachin and Shan states, and have not signed the NCA.

In the meeting, the UNFC will also discuss the membership application of four more ethnic organisations – the Rakhine, the Zomi, the Kuki and the Karen (Democratic Karen Buddhist Army led by Col Saw San Aung), U Twan Zaw said.

The applications of the four groups for UNFC membership have created concerns on the government side.

Last week, U Min Zaw Oo, a peace aide to the incumbent administration, met with the officials of UNFC, stating the government’s position that it would not accept new members during the course of the peace negotiation.

According to U Zaw Htay, a senior official at state counselor office, the government will only accept the groups that constitute the now-defunct Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team that represented 21 armed ethnic groups and negotiated with government for nearly two years to get the single draft of NCA.