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Compromise has been reached between government and ethnic delegations on all remaining points and a single-text Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) is now ready for approval, said representatives from both camps.
Speaking after Monday’s meeting in Rangoon, Saw Mra Raza Lin, an Arakanese delegate within the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) ethnic bloc, said, “Negotiators have reached agreement on all chapters of the NCA. Representatives of NCCT member organisations will now report back to their respective leaderships and the UPWC [government’s Union Peace-making Work Committee] will do likewise. After this, a significant meeting will be held.”
The NCCT’s Hkun Okkar said some wording still needs to be polished when the talks continue on Tuesday at Myanmar Peace Centre (MPC) in the former Burmese capital.
“On Monday, negotiators drawing up the NCA reached a preliminary agreement on the single-text draft, and a paper acknowledging this development will be signed on Tuesday,” he said. “This is all part of the procedure and not particularly significant. Afterwards, each delegation will report back to its home base. If everything goes according to plan, an NCA will be signed.”
MPC senior advisor Hla Maung Shwe told reporters at the end of Monday’s negotiations that the UPWC is ready to sign.
Another MPC advisor, Nyo Ohn Myint, said both the government and ethnic armed groups have showed commitment throughout the talks to bring about peace in the country.
“The ethnic delegations showed a strong determination to bring about peace, while the Tatmadaw [Burmese military] and government representatives engaged in the talks with the utmost patience and goodwill,” he said.
Myo Win, vice-chairman of the All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF), which participated in the talks, said: “This good news comes as a result of constructive engagement by representatives from both sides … But this is only the beginning of the peace process. There is still a lot of work to do with regard to political dialogue – finding political solutions to the dilemmas. It will require cooperation from all political forces and the public.”
A single-text draft signing ceremony is scheduled for Tuesday at the MPC venue.
Despite the ongoing ceasefire talks, clashes continue in Kachin and northern Shan states between government forces and several ethnic armed groups, namely the Kachin Independence Army, Ta-ang National Liberation Army, the Arakan Army, and Kokang rebels under the flag of the Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army.
A recent DVB poll initiated on 26 March indicates that, to date, 45 percent of readers believe that a nationwide ceasefire will be signed by the time of the November general election. Some 55 percent believe talks will ultimately fail.