Myanmar’s military government has held talks with three ethnic armed groups on staging elections in areas under rebel control, a spokesman for one of the groups has said.

Leaders from the Shan State Progress Party (SSPP), United Wa State Party (UWSP) and National Democratic Alliance Army

which have largely stayed out of a growing conflict that has gripped the country since the military staged a coup in February 2021 – are holding three days of talks in the capital, Naypyidaw

A spokesman for the SSPP, which controls territory in northern Shan state, said that the military had “asked us to let them hold free and fair elections in our area”.

The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar also reported on the meeting between the ethnic leaders and the military leadership.

“For us, we will not oppose their election,” the spokesman told Agence France-Presse. A spokesman for the UWSP did not respond to AFP’s request for comment on the meeting.

With a standing force of about 25,000, the UWSP’s military arm, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), is one of the world’s largest non-state militaries.

The UWSA conscripts its military force by taking a family member from each household in its autonomous enclave on Myanmar’s northern border with China.