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The finalisation of the draft nationwide ceasefire agreement will fall to a joint committee of ethnic ceasefire parties and government negotiators.
In an unprecedented level of cooperation between the two sides, the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), made up of 17 ethnic groups, agreed on Sunday to partner with the government’s Internal Peace Making Working Committee (IPMWC) in the finalisation of the draft.
The agreement precedes the planned Hpa-an peace talks – reset for the end of this month after several postponements.
The sides met at a two-day Rangoon meeting ending on Sunday, which resulted in a statement pledging the formation of a bipartisan committee with the goal of producing a “single ceasefire text” to prelude political dialogue.
Ministers Khin Yi (Immigration), Thet Naing Win (Border Affairs) and Ltd-Gen Myint So of the Ministry of Defence were present at the meeting, alongside NCCT leaders Nai Hongsa of the New Mon State Party the Karen National Union’s (KNU) Kwe Htoo Win and Lian H. Sakhong of the Chin National Front.
Lian H. Sakhong sees the move as a step closer to peace.
“We see the formation of the joint-committee as a progression in the peace process, otherwise we would be repeating the endless circle where we draft frameworks and then get turned down by the other side,” he said.
According to Lian H. Sakhong, the joint-committee will be formed by nine representatives from each side of the divide, with government representatives on the panel sourced from the President’s Office, Parliament and the Army.
The government has long stressed ceasefire as a prerequisite for political discussion with armed ethnic organisations. Ethnic groups such as the Kachin Independence Organisation maintain a separate focus, demanding that political dialogue should be conducted prior to a ceasefire.
Last year, the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy told DVB that “ceasefire would not be sustainable without implementing a political dialogue since there will be no mutual trust”.
Burmese military Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing stressed the opposite in a meeting with KNU delegates on Friday, stating that the government would bring about ceasefire “in any way possible”.
According to KNU Central Committee member Mahn Nyein Maung, present at the meeting, Min Aung Hlaing stressed the need for ceasefire before political discussion could take place.
“The commander-in-chief vowed to bring about ceasefire no matter what. He said that only the ceasefire would allow for peace building and development in the country, and that we had to have faith in the government,” Mahn Nyein Maung said.
Without divulging the items on the list, state-run New Light of Myanmar reported on Saturday that Min Aung Hlaing had taken a confidential “six point wish list” to the unilateral meeting with the KNU.