September 21, 2017

Gov’t, ethnic armed groups set to resume negotiations toward ceasefire accord

Dr La Ja, deputy leader of a senior delegation representing ethnic armed organizations, speaks at a meeting with the Myanmar Peace Centre’s working team in Chiang Mai on Wednesday. Photo: Nyo Ohn Myint
Dr La Ja, deputy leader of a senior delegation representing ethnic armed organizations, speaks at a meeting with the Myanmar Peace Centre’s working team in Chiang Mai on Wednesday. Photo: Nyo Ohn Myint

Yangon, 16 July — Negotiators representing the Union government and ethnic armed groups will meet in Yangon on 22 July, aiming to strike a deal on the official signing of the national ceasefire accord, a senior adviser at the Myanmar Peace Centre said Thursday.
The planned talks in Yangon will involve the government’s Union Peace-Making Work Committee and a senior delegation from the ethnic armed groups, said U Hla Maung Shwe, who held talks the previous day with ethnic delegates led by Naw Zipporah Sein in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
“In meeting with the (ethnic armed organizations’) senior delegates, a working team of the Myanmar Peace Centre informed them of Union Minister U Aung Min’s call for finalizing the NCA at a stroke in Yangon,” the senior adviser added.
“The (ethnic) senior delegation replied that they would try their best.”
According to sources, the meeting next week will run for two days, focusing on finalizing the deal and addressing the ethnic side’s demand that the signing process be inclusive of all armed groups, including those currently not officially engaged in the negotiations. The talks will also discuss who should be the NCA signatories, as well as international witnesses.
At the 2-3 July meeting in Chiang Mai between government negotiators led by Union Minister U Aung Min and the senior EAO delegation, the government side proposed holding further talks to determine NCA signatories, while signing the ceasefire deal with 15 ethnic armed groups first.
U Hla Maung Shwe confirmed there will be negotiations on a set of amendments to the NCA draft by the ethnic side at the Yangon talks, including a point about the signing process involving all ethnic armed groups.
Both sides have principally agreed to further talks in order to finalize and sign the NCA as soon as possible.
The planned Yangon meeting appears to be the first formal talks between the UPWC and a new 15-member senior negotiating team appointed by the ethnic groups at the Law Khee Lar summit in early June.
The NCA draft approved in Yangon in late March has yet to be signed due to its unexpected rejection by the ethnic side at the summit. The armed groups vowed not to sign the accord until further amendments were made, before appointing a new team for further talks with the government.  GNLM

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