Commemorating 8 Years of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) Amid Ongoing Conflicts

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – October 14 Scenes

MoeMaKa, October 15, 2023

Commemorating 8 Years of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) Amid Ongoing Conflicts

It has been eight years since the initial signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) on October 15, 2015, by eight ethnic armed groups and the ruling government at the time. This milestone event marked a significant moment in Myanmar’s history, as it was the 67th year since the country’s independence, during which civil conflicts had persisted. The NCA was a result of extensive discussions and negotiations between various ethnic armed organizations and the Myanmar Peace Center (MPC), representing the government of then-President U Thein Sein.

Sixteen ethnic armed organizations were initially involved in the drafting of the NCA. However, when it came time for the signing, only eight groups endorsed the NCA. Subsequently, during the term of the NLD government led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, two more ethnic armed groups added their signatures to bring the total to ten.

The NCA, considered a preliminary agreement for peace, raised hopes that the newly elected NLD government would expand the accord, bringing more ethnic armed groups into the fold and facilitating a resolution to the protracted civil war. Unfortunately, the military’s unwavering stance, frequent ground attacks that hindered peace negotiations, and the military’s inflexible policies during peace conferences caused the NLD’s 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference to stall and regress.

Reflecting on the speech made by the military leader, Min Aung Hlaing, during the fourth session of the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference, it was evident that the military’s commitment to peace was limited. Min Aung Hlaing claimed that peace issues and civil wars were solely the concerns of politicians and ethnic armed groups, asserting that the military’s role was only to protect the ruling government. He attributed the absence of peace to the dishonesty of politicians, using a colloquial analogy that likened their actions to selling dog meat while hanging a goat’s head. This speech at a peace conference exemplified the military’s reluctance to pursue a peaceful resolution.

Since President U Thein Sein’s government, the situation in Kachin State, where a ceasefire had been maintained for nearly two decades, deteriorated due to armed attacks. It was under the leadership of Min Aung Hlaing that the military opposed the ceasefire declaration issued by the President’s Office during U Thein Sein’s tenure. During that period, Laiza was bombarded with heavy weaponry, the military officer academy was targeted, and numerous cadets lost their lives, all of which underscored the military’s aversion to peace.

Following the military coup in 2021, a series of armed conflicts unfolded, altering the dynamics of military and political forces. The coup military council found itself confronting multiple war fronts, and armed groups emerged from ethnic communities that had previously been unarmed. The military council’s attempts to engage in peace talks are widely perceived as a diversionary tactic. While they engage in discussions about peace, they continue to engage in military confrontations with ethnic armed groups. This strategy seems to stoke the flames of conflict more aggressively than dousing them with water.

Given the aforementioned events, it becomes evident that the forthcoming eighth anniversary of the NCA is a tactical delay employed by the military council to reorganize their military forces amidst the ongoing confrontations they face.