Ethnic groups stand firm on inclusive ceasefire deal

Talks hosted by President U Thein Sein last week failed to resolve differences with ethnic armed group leaders over the number of signatories on a national ceasefire agreement, media reports said.

The government had hoped the talks in Nay Pyi Taw on September 9 would pave the way for the accord to be signed by the end of the month but in the absence of a breakthrough it was agreed to meet again in early October, reports said.

The government is opposed to the ceasefire being signed by the three groups involved in the conflict in the Kokang region: the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and its allies, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army and the Arakan Army.

It is also against the ceasefire being signed by the Lahu Democratic Union, the Wa National Organisation and the Arakan National Council.

Speaking after the September 9 talks, New Mon State Party chairman Nai Htaw Mon said that all ethnic armed groups must sign the draft ceasefire.

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His comments were echoed by the vice-chairman of the Kachin Independence Organisation, General N’Ban La, Burma News International reported.

In a joint statement issued on September 11, the three groups involved in the Kokang conflict insisted being among the signatories of the ceasefire accord, nalised earlier this year after two years of negotiations.

“The nationwide ceasefire agreement is a crucial accord for the emergence of genuine peace in the country,” the statement said.

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