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Responding to Burmese military chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing’s call for ethnic groups to abandon armed struggle, the general secretary of the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), Saw Kwe Htoo Win, has said that disarmament was never an issue on the table at ceasefire talks between the ethnic bloc and the government.
Speaking to DVB on Thursday, Saw Kwe Htoo Win, a Karen National Union (KNU) leader, said surrendering arms was never an option nor was the matter included in the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, a draft proposal of which was signed on 31 March.
“During the era of the military junta, they used such terminologies as ‘abandoning the armed movement’ and ‘entering the legal fold’, but those issues or phrases were not used during the ceasefire talks,” he said.
On 19 May, at a meeting in Naypyidaw with China’s Deputy Foreign Minister Chen Fengxiang, Min Aung Hlaing said that political instability could hinder Burma’s development and called on ethnic armed groups to ‘abandon armed attacks and make peace with the government’.
Chen Fengxiang reportedly expressed concerns over the ongoing conflict between Burmese forces and Kokang rebels in northeastern Burma, and called for a peaceful solution.
The NCCT, formed in late 2013, represents 16 of Burma’s main ethnic armed groups and has been in peace talks with government representatives for 18 months. President Thein Sein has expressed his desire to see a ceasefire signed ahead of this year’s general election.