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Myanmar armed groups agree to sign ceasefire pact

IANS  |  Yangon 

The six-day second conference of leaders of 17 ethnic armed groups in Myanmar ended in Khee Lar in southeastern Kayin state Saturday with the participants agreeing to sign a ceasefire accord with the government, according to a conference statement reaching here.

Khee Lar, also known as Laywa, is an area controlled by the Kayin National Union (KNU).

The leaders of the ethnic armed groups agreed in principle to the government's framework proposal of "first ceasefire, then political dialogue" to achieve domestic peace and put forward the demand for political dialogue in their draft national ceasefire accord (NCA), Xinhua reported.

The Khee Lar conference is the advance preparedness for holding a series of political dialogues after the ceasefire accord is signed, said the statement.

The ethnic armed groups need to participate in the political dialogue in unison and to strive for establishment of a genuine federal union, it added.

The conference, chaired by KNU chairman Saw Mutu Sae Phoe, that began Monday, was a follow-up of an earlier conference held in Laiza in northernmost Kachin state in October-November 2013, in which the ethnic leaders signed an 11-point framework agreement of their own.

The framework had been presented in the first round of talks with the government in November in Myitgyina, capital of Kachin state, for making a nationwide ceasefire deal.

The Khee Lar conference will be followed by a second round of talks between the government's Central Peace-Making Work Committee and the ethnic armed groups' Nationwide Cease-fire Coordination Team (NCCT).

The talks, originally scheduled for late January in Pha-an, the capital of Kayin state, have been put off and are expected to be held in the last week of February.

During last November's Myitgyina talks, in addition to the presentation of the ethnic armed groups' 11-point ceasefire framework reached in Laiza, the government's Central Peace-Making Work Committee also put forward its draft nationwide ceasefire accord for future signing.

The 17 armed groups include, among others, Kachin Independence Army (KIA), United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), Kayin National Union (KNU), Kayinni National Progressive Party (KNPP), Restoration Council of the Shan State Army (RCSS), Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO), Democratic Kayin Buddhist Army (DKBA), New Mon State Party (NMSP) and Chin National Front (CNF).

Two other groups, namely United Wa State Army (UWSA) of Shan state special region-2 and National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) of Shan state special region-4, did not attend the conference.

However, they promised to take part in the NCA signing, according to conference sources.

Ethnic armed groups have been in existence for about six decades after Myanmar gained independence in 1948, and peace negotiations have been going on during the tenure of successive governments including the military government.

First Published: Sat, January 25 2014. 19:50 IST