Myan­mar to sign peace deal with 8 rebel groups

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Myan­mar’s gov­ern­ment will sign a long-ne­go­ti­ated cease-fire on Oct. 15 but with only eight rebel forces, of­fi­cials said Sun­day, as sev­eral ma­jor in­sur­gent groups de­clined to ink an agree­ment that ex­cludes some fac­tions.

More than two years of talks to end decades of civil war in the na­tion’s rugged bor­der­lands have gained mo­men­tum in re­cent weeks, with the gov­ern­ment ea­ger to reach a deal be­fore Novem­ber’s gen­eral elec­tion.

But hopes for a na­tion­wide cease-fire have crum­bled af­ter sev­eral rebel groups re­fused to sign an agree­ment with­out the in­clu­sion of all in­sur­gent forces — no­tably some smaller or­ga­ni­za­tions locked in con­flict with the army.

“The NCA (Na­tion­wide Ceasefire Agree­ment) will be signed on Oc­to­ber 15 in Naypyi­daw,” Hla Maung Shwe, a se­nior mem­ber of the gov­ern­ment’s ne­go­ti­at­ing team, told AFP, adding that eight groups in­clud­ing the prom­i­nent Karen Na­tional Union were on board.

“We will keep invit­ing all eth­nic armed groups to sign,” he said, re­fer­ring to the 15 rebel or­ga­ni­za­tions the gov­ern­ment has agreed to ne­go­ti­ate with.

Ma­jor groups in­clud­ing the Kachin In­de­pen­dence Army have re­fused to sign the agree­ment, and clashes be­tween them and gov­ern­ment troops have in­ten­si­fied in re­cent weeks as the ne­go­ti­a­tions reach a crit­i­cal junc­ture.

On Satur­day a con­fed­er­a­tion of eth­nic armed groups urged the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to sup­port ef­forts for “gen­uine po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue and peace” in Myan­mar.

“As the NCA is go­ing to be signed by only some or­ga­ni­za­tions, it can­not be a decisive and com­plete one,” the United Na­tion­al­i­ties Fed­eral Coun­cil said in a state­ment.

Mass Dis­place­ments

Myan­mar’s gov­ern­ment had agreed to al­low 15 eth­nic armed groups to sign the deal, but re­jected some half a dozen or­ga­ni­za­tions put for­ward by a con­sor­tium of eth­nic mi­nor­ity armies seek­ing full in­clu­sion in the cease-fire.

At a meet­ing be­tween some eth­nic armed groups and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials at the Myan­mar Peace Cen­ter in Yan­gon ear­lier Sun­day, chief gov­ern­ment peace ne­go­tia­tor Aung Min said the army “had no in­ten­tion to launch an of­fen­sive against these groups be­cause they didn’t sign the NCA.”

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