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February 26, 2018

Ethnic ceasefire signatories eye all-inclusive political dialogue

Ethnic ceasefire signatories hope to see the upcoming political dialogue include non-signatory groups, according to an ethnic armed organisation representative of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC).
As a compromise, the government and ethnic organisations reached a tentative agreement to invite non-signatories of the National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) to meetings during the framework-drafting process as well as political dialogue, granting them the status of special invitees, said UPDJC ethnic minority representative Khun Myint Tun.
The government previously approved of non-signatories taking part in the future peace process as observers, but ceasefire signatories wanted them to be granted equal status,  added Khun Myint Tun, who is also the chairman of the Pa-O National Liberation Organisation, an NCA signatory.
Despite being described by the Myanmar government as “all-inclusive”, several ethnic groups including the Shan State Progressive Party, Kachin Independence Organisation, New Mon State Party and Karenni National Progressive Party refused to sign the NCA, said the chairman.
“Some believe the term ‘all-inclusive’ refers to the inking of the ceasefire, while others believe it refers to political dialogue,” he said. According to the Pa-O leader, special invitees will be allowed to have the right to speak at the meetings, but they will not have decision-making privileges.
Whether or not the non-signatories receiving special invitee status participate in the future peace process, the two sides’ decisions will be submitted for approval by the next Joint Implementation Coordination meeting, slated for next month in Nay Pyi Taw, said U Hla Maung Shwe, senior adviser to the Myanmar Peace Centre (MPC).
Prior to seeking the approval at the Nay Pyi Taw meeting, the framework should be drafted, added U Hla Maung Shwe, who is also a government representative in the UPDJC. According to the senior adviser, there has been no conflict with five of the seven ethnic armed groups that did not sign the NCA, though there are still pockets of conflict with two groups—the SSPP and KIA.
He expressed his optimism about the ongoing talks between the government and SSPP that good things will happen for both sides.
Following tripartite talks between representatives of political parties, the government and ethnic ceasefire signatories, a framework for political dialogue is expected to be set up by 14 December, with the first round of political dialogue is slated to be held no later than 13 January.
According to the terms of the ceasefire agreement between the government and eight ethnic armed groups, both sides are required to draw up the framework within 60 days of the signing and to hold political dialogue within 90 days.


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