The week-long Laiza conference of 18 ethnic armed organizations which concluded on July 31st proposed that Japan and Norway be invited as signatory witnesses to the planned nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) signing ceremony, according to sources returning from the Sino-Burmese border.

The Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), a group established to negotiate a nationwide ceasefire with Naypyidaw on behalf of armed ethnic groups, also proposed the following other foreign dignitaries and countries as witnesses:

  • Secretary General of the United Nations
  • Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean)
  • The United States
  • The People’s Republic of China
  • India
  • Thailand
  • The United Kingdom

Some of the resolutions which the NCCT passed at the recent Laiza conference include the following:
1. To firmly adhere to the principle of forging a genuine federal union system based on constituent states that fully enjoy democracy, racial equality, and the right of self determination

2. Subject to acceptance by the government of Resolution # 1, the word “revolutionary” will be deleted from the title of the agreement
To adopt the title “Union Peace Conference” for the planned national conference

3. The Three Causes (i.e. non-disintegration of the union, non-disintegration of national solidarity and perpetuation of national sovereignty) proposed by the government will be designated as a subject to be discussed in the planned political dialogue

4. The planned political dialogue will be attended by the government, ethnic armed organizations, and registered political parties, including “appropriate democratic forces”

5. The “national level” political dialogue will be replaced with “national and multi-national level” political dialogue
“Transitional arrangements” will be part of the NCA

6. The NCCT is empowered to amend the NCA draft without prejudice to the basic political principles laid down by the Law Khee Lar conference (held in January 2014)

NCA signatory organizations must meet the following requirements set forth by the Law Khee Lar conference: they must be a signatory to the Laiza conference resolutions; they must have concluded a ceasefire with the government; they must possess the required attributes of an armed ethnic group; they must not be an armed group under the control of the government or the Burmese military; and they must not be an organization fighting against a foreign government

NCCT leader Nai Hong Sa was quoted as saying at the conference that “Both sides still harbor deep suspicions about each other. Each side is concerned that the other side will take advantage of the ceasefire agreement to expand and build up their respective forces.”

A pre-meeting was held between the NCCT and the Union Peacemaking Work Committee (UPWC)—a committee which has been negotiating the nationwide ceasefire on behalf of the Burmese government—in Myitkyina on August 3rd in advance of the next NCCT-UPWC meeting tentatively scheduled for August 15-20, according to a source.

According to VOA, both sides have expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the pre-meeting. There are still three sticking points that need further deliberation, however, according to a quote in Kamayut Media by UPWC’s special adviser U Hla Maung Shwe. Meanwhile, the Irrawaddy has pointed out that one sticking point could be the fact that some armed groups might not satisfy all the NCA signatory criteria. The Wa National Organization, for instance, is not recognized by the government.

Nevertheless, Eleven Media has reported that both sides believe that a draft NCA might be finalized (or at least 95% finished) at the next meeting between the NCCT and the UPWC.