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As leaders of ethnic armed organisations meet in Karen State for a summit to hash out the fine details of a draft ceasefire deal agreed with the government at the end of March, key figures at the meeting have emphasised the need for a speedy conclusion to a peace agreement.
Host of the summit and Karen National Union (KNU) Commander-in-Chief Gen. Mutu Say Poe urged his counterparts to regard the signing of a nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) as an opportunity to continue discussions.
“The leaders [of armed organisations] must be courageous and sign the NCA, and continue the struggle at the discussion table,” he said.
“We must decide whether we take whatever we can get now, and continue negotiations in a determined manner so that everybody gains – or turn down the opportunity, and not get anything.
“The NCA is merely an agreement to stop fighting and continue resolving problems via negotiations. That doesn’t mean we can expect to achieve all our goals,” said Mutu Say Poe.
Leaders of ethnic armed groups on Monday arrived at the Law Khee La headquarters of the Karen National Union (KNU) for the conference that is expected to run until Saturday.
UN Secretary General’s Special Advisor on Burma Vijay Nambiar said that the conference is “absolutely necessary” to achieve peace.
“I think we don’t have very much time, and my hope – and it is the hope of the UN – is that this meeting will finally even out all of the problem areas and set the process for a nationwide ceasefire and for the start of a political dialogue as soon as possible,” said Nambiar.
Of the upcoming elections, the special advisor said, “ I think this is necessary before the election process starts in Myanmar [Burma]. Because then it will lay down certain good frameworks, a good basis for future movement, and it will allow the ethnic armed organisations particularly to occupy an important part of the political field as you go into to future.”
“I think the ethnic armed organisations and the ethnic community in Myanmar need to have important central part in the future political framework of this country,” said Nambiar.