Hope for Myanmar ceasefire
- Published: 5 Nov 2013 at 19.19
- Online news:
YANGON - Myanmar's minister in charge of peace negotiations with the country's ethnic insurgent groups expressed optimism on Tuesday that a ceasefire could be signed soon.
Representatives of 18 ethnic rebel groups met with Aung Min, minister to the president's office, in Myitkyina on Monday and Tuesday to present their draft for a nationwide ceasefire, which they had hashed out among themselves the previous week.
"I think the government can accept almost all the points that the ethnic armed groups submitted because their draft is not too different from the government's proposed nationwide ceasefire agreement," Aung Min said in a telephone interview.
The ceasefire negotiations will resume next month in Hpa An, capital of the Karen State.
"We will hold the second ethnic armed organisations conference in Karen-controlled area ahead of the Hpa An meeting to re-discuss our mutual stance," said Saw Kwe Htoo Win, general secretary of the Karen National Union (KNU), one of the world's oldest insurgencies.
The KNU waged an insurgency against the Myanmar government from 1949 until 2012, when it signed a ceasefire with the current administration.
The government of reform-minded President Thein Sein, which came to power in March 2011 after Myanmar's first elections in 20 years, has signed separate ceasefires with 14 of the country's ethnic rebel groups.
Thein Sein has called for a nationwide ceasefire signed by all the rebel groups, to be followed by political talks on how to settle the issue of semi-autonomous rule in the ethnic minority territories.
It is hoped the ethnic minority conflicts can be resolved peacefully before the next general election in 2015.
The insurgents have demanded that any nationwide ceasefire must be signed by the army commander-in-chief and the leaders of all political parties, including Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The Kachin Independence Organisation, which has yet to sign a ceasefire with the government, has agreed to sign the nationwide ceasefire together with the other ethnic rebel groups. The United Wa State Army (UWSA), which did not attend the Myitkyina meeting, will be invited to Hpa An next month, Saw Kwe Htoo Winong said.
Western democracies last year made ending government attacks on the rebel groups a condition for ending their sanctions on Myanmar.