Ethnic Armed Groups Leaders Meet Government To Finalize Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement

The ethnic armed organizations representatives have reached the end of the nationwide ceasefire agreement process following a three-day meeting in the Thai Northern city of Chiang Mai.

The meeting held from August 21 to 24 resulted in the appointment of a new delegation of eight members to meet with President U Thein Sein and General Min Aung Hlaing in Nay Pyi Daw to hammer out the nationwide ceasefire agreement. The meeting is scheduled to be held at the end of the month.

Padoh Naw Zipporah Sein, vice chairperson of the Karen National Union and leader of the ethnic armed group senior delegation, spoke to Karen News.

“The decision made at this meeting is to finalize the NCA and to further discuss some issues. We have selected five top post leaders – one each from Karen National Union, New Mon State Party, Karenni National Progressive Party, Kachin Independent Organization and Shan State Progressive Party, together with the three existing leaders of the Senior Delegation team will meet with the government.”

Padoh Naw Zipporah Sein said that the new delegation is tasked with negotiating for every armed group to be included in the signing or at least negotiate to find ways how the groups [excluded] can be included in the process. At the moment, four member of the ethnic alliance are not recognized by the government to participate in the NCA signing.

Padoh Saw Kwe Htoo Win, the KNU’s general secretary is concerned that, holding strictly onto the all-inclusive principle without trying to find ways around it could collapse the ceasefire negotiations and could destroy the unity of the ethnic alliance.

Speaking to Karen News, Padoh Saw Kwe Htoo Win said.

“If we hold on to the all-inclusive principle and if the government could not accept it, the negotiations will be ruined. The government will only invite those who are willing to sign the agreement and there will come a time when each organization will have to make a decision. If that happen, our alliance will be loosen.”

Padoh Saw Kwe Htoo Win said that if the agreement can’t be finalized during the next and ‘the last’ round of negotiations [on NCA], there will be no more chances for further rounds.

“If we can’t get the thing done [at the next meeting], there will be no more chance for the NCA to get sign. Even though if the ceasefire agreement is signed, it will be in a different form. It will depend on each individual organization’s decision. It won’t be a collective one. So, our next trip is to go and finish the works on the nationwide ceasefire agreement.”

Padoh Naw Zipporah Sein said that the ethnic alliance meeting had not decided on who would sign the NCA first or who would sign later.

“During this meeting, no group has made a decision to go ahead with the signing. When everything is negotiated at the next meeting, we will move to the next step.”

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