Myanmar signs peace accord with eight armed groups

Nay Pyi Taw, Oct 15 (IANS) The Myanmar government on Thursday signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Accord (NCA) with eight out of the 15 ethnic armed groups involved in the peace deal, signalling an end to nearly six decades of civil conflict.

The signing at the Myanmar International Convention Centre was witnessed by local and international observers.

Among the eight groups are Kayin National Union, Kayin National Liberation Army – Peace Council, All Burma Students’ Democratic Front, and Chin National Front, reported Xinhua.

The government side was represented by President U Thein Sein, Vice-Presidents Sai Mauk Kham and U Nyan Tun, besides others.

International witnesses from the United Nations, the European Union, China, India, Thailand and Japan were present at the event.

On behalf of the eight armed groups were their respective leaders.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, President U Thein Sein underlined the event as a historic and significant one, saying that the road to future peace in Myanmar is now open.

“Reform would not succeed without peace,” he said, adding that sustainable and lasting peace in the country cannot be achieved through ceasefire alone.

He called for political dialogue to address the deep-rooted issues and strengthen ceasefire.

As for some remaining groups which are currently not ready to sign the NCA, the president said the government will continue its efforts to bring them into the process.

According to the president, the signing will be followed by the formation of a Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee to prevent armed clashes and a Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee to facilitate political dialogue.

A political framework will be drawn up within 60 days after the formal NCA signing and the political dialogue starts within 90 days.

Three days before the formal signing of NCA, the government removed the eight signatory armed groups from the list of “unlawful associations” and “terrorist organisations”.

The peace process began in November 2013 when the government’s Union Peace Making Work Committee and ethnic armed groups’ National Ceasefire Coordination Team met in Kachin state’s capital for the nation-wide ceasefire talks. The ninth and final round of talks was held in Yangon in August this year.

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