August 19, 2016

Peace draws nearer—Tentative agreement to sign ceasefire in October

President U Thein Sein greets U Hsay Htin, patron of Shan State Progressive Party.—MNA
President U Thein Sein greets U Hsay Htin, patron of Shan State Progressive Party.—MNA

President U Thein Sein and senior leaders of ethnic minority armed groups held talks on Wednesday that resulted in both sides tentatively agreeing to sign a ceasefire accord in October.
U Hla Maung Shwe, senior adviser at Myanmar Peace Centre (MPC), told the media after the talks that the government had agreed in principle to the ethnic minority’s demands for an all-inclusive deal, although it called for a progressive realisation of the truce pact that would involve it being signed by the 15 groups with whom it has already reached bilateral peace agreements.
Of the six groups that the government has so far not included in the deal, an agreement has been reached for three to take part in political dialogue. These three parties include the Lahu Democratic Union, Arakan National Council and Wa National Organisation, MPC’s senior adviser said.
Separate talks appear set to be held with the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, while the Taaung National Liberation Army is reportedly likely to sign the national ceasefire accord if it reaches bilateral agreement with the government.
During the talks, the president said that the government hopes that a single agreement may be signed with all three Arakan groups, the Arakan National Council, the Arakan Liberation Party and the Arakan Army – the latter of which is based in the KIO-held territory.
According to the senior adviser, a date for signing the accord with 15 groups will be set during a meeting between Union Minister U Aung Min and a senior delegation from the ethnic minority armed groups or the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team. The meeting is expected to take place soon.
The president proposed on Wednesday that the accord be signed on 29 September, however representatives from ethnic minority groups requested that they  be given time to explain the benefits of signing a national ceasefire accord to their respective group members, and proposed that a signing take place in mid-October.
MPC’s U Hla Maung Shwe expressed hope that around 10 and 15 groups would initially sign the accord, with others to follow.
He said that ethnic minority armed groups sought political, military and social guarantees from the government during the talks in Nay Pyi Taw for the groups that will be sidelined from the signing process.
The government pledged that it will clear signatories to the accord from its list of unlawful associations prior to the signing and will ensure non-signatories will be invited to take part in political dialogue and that action will not be taken against them under Section 17/1 of the Unlawful Associations Act.
P’doh Saw Kwe Htoo Win, a member of the senior delegation of ethnic minority armed groups, said that the signatories to the deal would take responsibility for the ensuring that internal peace is lasting and the terms respected.
The ethnic delegation who attended the Nay Pyi Taw high-level talks with the President and government senior officials were Saw Mutu Sae Po, chairman of the Karen National Union, U N’ Ban La, vice-chairman of the Kachin Independence Organization, U Say Htin from the Shan State Progressive Party, Nai Htaw Mon, chairman of the New Mon State Party and U Abel Tweed, chairman of Karenni National Progressive Party, and three senior delegation leaders— P’doh Naw Zipporah Sein, Dr La Ja and Pu Zing Cung, and member P’doh Saw Kwe Htoo Win.— GNLM


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