August 19, 2016

SEVEN BECOMES EIGHT — One more ethnic group joins as signatory to peace deal

U Hla Maung Shwe (far left), P’doh Saw Kwe Htoo Win (middle) and U Myo Win answer queries raised by reporters at a press conference in Yangon. Photo: Ye Myint
U Hla Maung Shwe (far left), P’doh Saw Kwe Htoo Win (middle) and U Myo Win answer queries raised by reporters at a press conference in Yangon. Photo: Ye Myint

THE Restoration Council of Shan State/ Shan State Army, during its central committee meeting yesterday, agreed to be a signatory to the nationwide ceasefire accord along with seven other groups, according to a senior adviser at Myanmar Peace Centre.
It can be said that eight ethnic armed groups out of the 15 invited by the government to sign the truce pact have confirmed that they will go ahead with the signing process, said Myanmar Peace Centre’s (MPC’s) senior adviser U Hla Maung Shwe.
RCSS/SSA was one of eight ethnic groups who were present at the nationwide ceasefire accord (NCA) signing date meeting at the peace centre last Sunday.
The senior adviser affirmed the receipt of letters attached with the list of the names of three leaders who are going to sign the deal from seven groups.
“RCSS/SSA will send such kind of letter days to come,” said MPC’s senior adviser.
Seven groups — Karen National Union, Karen National Liberation Army-Peace Council, Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, Pa-O National Liberation Organization, Chin National Front, Arakan Liberation Party and All Burma Students’ Democratic Front —confirmed that they will ink the peace pact with the government following an ethnic summit in Chiang Mai, Thailand, last week.
The exact date and place for NCA signing was announced after the Sunday meeting in Yangon, with a schedule to hold a signing ceremony at Myanmar International Convention Centre-2 in Nay Pyi Taw on 15 October.
“It is up to each group to decide whether or not it will sign the deal”, said P’doh Saw Kwe Htoo Win, general secretary of Karen National Union, one of the signatories, at a press conference after the meeting.
The government invited 15 ethnic groups to be involved in the signing process last month.
As there is a process for NCA signatories to be removed from the list of unlawful associations a couple of days before the ceasefire is inked, the invited ethnic armed groups must inform the government of their decisions prior to the process, said U Hla Maung Shwe.
According to sources from ethnic groups, ethnic signatories to the accord will hold another summit with non-signatories before the signing of the ceasefire.
Despite having come to a deadlock over the ceasefire signing, ethnic groups who announced they will sign the accord and others who are yet to do so reached a consensus on certain issues during a recent summit in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The groups are united in their goal of achieving a successful peace process and to do by working in cooperation, said U Myo Win, vice-chairman of ABSDF at a press conference last Sunday.
He did not mention a specific date or venue for the pre-ceasefire signing summit.
Despite possessing a willingness to take part in the signing process, some groups requested additional time in order to build trust with the government as armed conflict is ongoing, as well as to ensure all-inclusiveness in the signing of the agreement, according to ethnic group sources.
If the ceasefire is signed on the scheduled date, signatories will be required to implement the post-signing steps laid out in the agreement shortly afterwards. These steps include finalising a code of conduct for both sides within 30 days, establishing a political framework within 60 days and holding political dialogue within 90 days.—GNLM


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