Delegates from the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) arrived in Rangoon today and are set to meet with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi after holding state-level peace talks last week.
The ALP delegation, led by deputy-chairman Khine Soe Naing Aung, agreed on a five-point deal with their government counterparts in Arakan state’s capital, Sittwe, on 5 April.
This will be the first meeting between the group and Suu Kyi. On 8 April, Suu Kyi met with the Karen National Union’s delegation that was in Rangoon for union-level talks with the government and with the Democratic Karen Buddhist Association in February.
The ALP, from western Burma’s Arakan state, has been in armed struggle with the Burmese government for more than 40 years.
Also on Tuesday, the New Mon State Party (NMSP)’s peace delegation left its headquarters in Yaechaungphyar for union-level talks with the government.
The seven-member NMSP delegation, led by its joint-general secretary-1 Nai Aung Min, are set to meet with government negotiators led by Railway Minister Aung Min, who is responsible for sealing several ceasefire deals as of late.
Nai Hongsa Mon, foreign relations coordinator of the armed group, said the two sides promised to hold further talks during their last meeting.
“We agreed to hold more talks in 45 days and so our delegation went. This time they will discuss positioning troops, development projects and political prisoners,” said Nai Hongsa Mon. “There are two of us still [in prison] – Nai Yakkha and Nai Myo Htwe.”
The spokesperson claims the two NMSP officials were set up by government authorities and convicted of treason seven years ago.
The NMSP previously met with the government negotiators on four separate occasions. During their most recent talks in late February, the group established a truce with the government and agreed to open liaison offices in Moulmein, Thanbyuzayat, Payathonzu and Yay townships.
In the by-elections wake, the government is continuing to reach out to armed ethnic groups. Many experts believe if the conflicts with rebel armies are ended within Burma, western countries will drop their remaining sanctions that have been placed on the country.
While several ethnic minority groups are continuing to meet with Burmese officials, in Kachin state government troops are openly fighting with the Kachin Independence Army. Tens of thousands of residents have fled their homes as the fighting has intensified.
Reporting contributed by Nang Mya Nadi and Nay Thwin