This month’s meeting of the Shan State Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC-S) is to be cancelled due to time and budget restraints, according to an official from the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA).
Major Sai Oo, the RCSS/SSA spokesperson, said that his group had not received any information or briefing to the monthly JMC-S meeting for February. He said that a Viber group account had been set up to help facilitate communications, however no information had been circulated relating to the monthly meeting.
“We have received no contact from each other recently,” he said. “If we can hold regular meetings, I believe it will help support the peace process.”
He added: “The main reason that the JMC-S meeting cannot be scheduled this month is because of budgets. Each group also has to work to ensure that they can allot time for these meetings.”
National and regional Joint Monitoring Committees were formed after eight ethnic armed groups – the RCSS/SSA; the Karen National Union (KNU); the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA); the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Party-Peace Council (KNU/KNLA-PC); the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP); the Chin National Front (CNF); the Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO); and the All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF) – signed a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with the Burmese government on 15 October 2015.
The Shan State JMC was established on January 1, 2016. However, to date only four meetings have been held. The first meeting took place on January 9, 2016, in southern Shan State’s Kholam Township, where the headquarters of the Burmese military Central Eastern Command is based.
“We setup the JMC-S for both sides [ethnic ceasefire groups and Burmese military] to discuss mutual problems and to find solutions,” Maj Sai Oo explained.
As per the terms of the peace process, the JMCs were established to monitor military matters between the Tatmadaw (Burma armed forces) and the troops of the NCA signatories. If hostilities were to break out between groups from within the network, then the regional JMC was given the responsibility to mediate the case. Over the last year, several clashes have occurred between government forces, NCA signatories and non-signatories. Significantly, the RCSS/SSA has been involved in armed fighting against government units, most recently in the southern Shan State township of Mong Pawn.
Currently, five regional JMCs are in place: Tanintharyi Region, Shan State, Karen State, Mon State and Bago Region. There is also a plan to form another JMC in Chin State.
According to the Burmese military commander in Tanintharyi, Maj-Gen Lin Aung, shareholders in that region hold regular monthly meetings. He said that they also have an online network where they can discuss issues.
“There has been no fighting since we setup the JMC in Tanintharyi,” he said. “We regularly contact each other via Viber. Sometimes, there are some difficulties with the mobile signal, but that is not a big problem for us.”
By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)
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