December 17, 2016

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Gov’t, ethnic armed groups adjourn ceasefire talks until next month

 Negotiators from Union Peace-Making Working Committee and a senior delegation of ethnic armed organizations conclude talks in Yangon, adjourning until the first week of next month.
Negotiators from Union Peace-Making Working Committee and a senior delegation of ethnic armed organizations conclude talks in Yangon, adjourning until the first week of next month.

Government and ethnic negotiators on Friday adjourned talks aimed at finalizing a draft national ceasefire accord until next month, having been unable to seal a deal on three proposed amendments to the pact following three days of discussions in Yangon.
The two sides will seek to finalize the NCA and reach a compromise on unresolved proposals from both sides at the next round starting the first week of August, chief negotiators said in their concluding remarks following the adjournment.
In a press conference at the Myanmar Peace Centre, spokespersons told the media both sides will have to seek approval from their respective leaderships about proposed NCA signatories and international witnesses, as well as the number of ethnic armed groups to ink the ceasefire.
On the three unresolved amendments, both sides reiterated that they agreed in principle on two points, but needed approval from their respective leaderships, while the third point will require further negotiation.
The two sides during the first two days of the talks reached agreement on 10 of 13 amendments to the draft accord proposed by the ethnic side.
According to the spokespersons, the ethnic side’s insistence that all armed groups be involved in the signing process remained a major point of contention.
Pu Zing Cung, a deputy leader of the ethnic senior delegation, said the ethnic side still firmly held that the signing of the truce deal must include 17 groups—the 16 members of the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team plus the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF).
“The government side responded to us that it prefers not to sign with six NCCT member groups, but the inclusion of the six groups in a political dialogue after the ceasefire deal will be taken into consideration,” he said.
U Hla Maung Shwe, senior adviser at the Myanmar Peace Centre, insisted that there would be no exclusion of some groups from the peace process and ways were being sought to move forward on the issue.
“The ethnic side sought a guarantee at the current talks and the government side agreed to negotiate the issue at the next round of talks,” he said.
According to the ethnic peace negotiator Pu Zing Cung, the ethnic side proposed international organizations including the United Nations, ASEAN and the European Union, as well as the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway, Japan, China, India and Thailand officially witness the signing of the NCA.
“We also proposed all leaders from the two sides including vice-presidents, parliament speakers, top leaders in the Tatmadaw, Union Peace-Making Work Committee leaders and the attorney-general should be signatories to the ceasefire deal,” he added.

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