Myanmar government, rebel groups to draft joint ceasefire proposal

Yangon, April 5: The Myanmar government and ethnic armed groups Saturday resumed part of their ceasefire talks here to coordinate for jointly drafting a single text document for the nationwide ceasefire proposal before formal peace talks continue.

The meeting was attended by 21 ethnic armed groups — 16 from the National Cease-fire Coordination Team (NCCT) representing ethnic armed groups and other five non-NCCT-member ethnic armed groups such as the United Wa State Party (UWSP), the Restoration Council of the Shan State Army (RCSS), the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCNK-K), as well as the All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF).

The talks also involved parliamentarians and military representatives, Xinhua reported.

U Aung Min, vice chairman of the Union Peacemaking Work Committee, urged all ethnic armed groups to strive for drafting a single text document which he said was most important for signing of the nationwide ceasefire deal.

The two sides agreed March 10 to draft the document ahead of expected formal peace talks in Kayin state’s capital of Hpa-an at a future date.

Meanwhile, Myanmar President U Thein Sein revealed in a recent speech in the parliament on the occasion of the third anniversary of the taking of office of his government that some agreements have been reached with ethnic leaders on the issue, expressing his belief that the six decade-long civil war was about to end soon.

The government earlier expected that the Hpa-an peace talks could lead to a possible signing of a nationwide ceasefire.

In late January, leaders of 17 ethnic armed groups in Myanmar held a six-day conference in Karen National Union (KNU)-controlled Law Khee Lar or Laywa, agreeing in principle to the government’s framework proposal for “first ceasefire, then political dialogue” to achieve domestic peace. The demand for political dialogue is stipulated in the armed groups’ draft national ceasefire accord (NCA).

The Law Khee Lar conference was a follow-up of an earlier ethnic leaders’ conference held in Laiza in northernmost Kachin state in October-November 2013, in which the ethnic leaders signed an 11-point framework agreement of their own.

The framework was presented in the first round of talks with the government in Myitgyina, the capital of Kachin state.

The government claimed reaching individual ceasefire agreements with 14 ethnic armed groups out of 16 since a peace offer from the president was extended in August 2011.

IANS