Govt Ready to Sign Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement – Armed Groups Want Ethnic Leaders Summit to Ratify Wording Before Committing Pen-to-Paper

An alliance of ethnic armed groups have said that they have reached an agreement with the government about a nationwide ceasefire but now need to take the draft wording to a summit for their leaders to ratify and sign the document.

Naing Hong Sar, head of the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) representing the ethnic armed organizations, told reporters at a press conference held after the latest round of nationwide ceasefire talks. The press conference was held at the Myanmar Peace Center in Rangoon where both the government’s Union Peacemaking Working Committee (UPWC) and the NCCT said they had agreed on the draft single text of the nationwide ceasefire agreement.

This latest meeting is the seventh official round of talks between UPWC and NCCT to discuss on text for the nationwide ceasefire agreement. On the seventh day of the seventh round, both sides had managed to reach an agreement on the document wording.

Speaking at the press conference, Naing Hong Sar, the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team leader confirm that the two sides had reached an agreement.

“I want to say that both sides have reached an agreement. However, as the NCCT delegation, we cannot make decisions on the nationwide ceasefire. We have to call for a summit where the top leaders of all our member groups can meet and submit this [preliminary] document there. They [ethnic leaders] will have to make the decision. They might want to make changes [to the document]. After we have all the approvals, it is planned that the top [ethnic] leaders will officially sign the document.”

Sources from the NCCT said that although there has not been any discussions on when and where to hold the summit to make decision on the agreement, it is expected that the event will take place in April.

Dr. Lian Sakhong, a member of the NCCT said that they would like to invite all the 26 ethnic armed organizations, whether they are NCCT members or not, to take part at the summit to discuss and if there is agreement, they will then all sign the nationwide ceasefire agreement.

U Hla Maung Shwe, spokeperson for the UPWC said that the government side is ready to sign the nationwide ceasefire agreement as every agreement throughout the negotiation had been reported back to their relevant leaders.

“There are seven chapters with 33 articles and 86 sections in the nationwide ceasefire agreement. From the UPWC position, we have already reported this and there is no difficulty [to sign] the agreement from the government’s side. I want to say that there is nothing left from our side that needs further negotiation and we are ready to sign the agreement.”

The NCCT and UPWC started negotiations on the draft wording of the nationwide ceasefire agreement in November 2013 and have officially met seven times and also held several informal meetings to discuss the agreement.

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