The Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) has said that it has decided to withdraw from the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) ethnic alliance.
General Pang Fa, the chairman of the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA)
“We submitted a letter of resignation to the UNFC on August 12,” said SSPP/SSA spokesperson Sai Pong Harn.
According to an official from SSPP/SSA, the group approved the decision to resign from the bloc at its recent bi-annual meeting.
News of the Shan army’s resignation was broadcast on the United Wa State Army’s television channel on August 19, when Maj-Gen Khun Seng, the vice chairman of the SSPP/SSA, spoke at a meeting in Pangsang of the newly formed Federal Political Negotiation Consultative Committee (FPNCC) which comprises: UWSA; the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO); the Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA); the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA); the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA); the Arakan Army (AA); and the SSPP/SSA.
The FPNCC had previously been known as the Northern Alliance. Several members have been in regular armed conflict with Burmese government forces in northern Shan State in recent times.
The loss of the SSPP/SSA is the latest in a series of withdrawals from the UNFC, an ethnic bloc which was formed in 2011, originally comprising 12 ethnic armed organizations: Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP); New Mon State Party (NMSP); SSPP/SSA; Arakan National Council/Arakan Army (ANC); Lahu Democratic Union (LDU); KIO; Wa National Organisation (WNO); TNLA; MNDAA; Chin National Front (CNF); Karen National Union (KNU); and Pa-O National Organization (PNO).
In 2015, five of its members – CNF, KNU, PNO, TNLA and MNDAA – were suspended; and then more recently, four members announced their resignations from the bloc: KIO, WNO, TNLA and MNDAA.
Now, bereft of the SSPP/SSA, only four of the original UNFC members remain: KNPP, NMSP, LDU and ANC.
Both the UNFC and FPNCC have remained outside the government’s ongoing peace process; neither bloc has embraced the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), an accord which specifically excluded several Northern Alliance members.
Recently, many Burma observers have noted the apparent shifting sands between the country’s two major ethnic alliances, with the UNFC apparently waning as the Northern Alliance grows in strength and influence.
Headed by the most powerful ethnic army in the country, the 20,000-strong UWSA, the FPNCC considers Beijing a close confidant.
By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)
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