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The Shan State Army–North last week became the latest ethnic armed group to sign a ceasefire deal with the Burmese government after several rounds of negotiations over the past month.
Officials from the group met with a government delegation on Saturday in Taunggyi, the capital of Shan state. A key area of contention for many of Burma’s ethnic armies, that of territory allocation, was reportedly agreed upon during the talks, although specific details have not be made public.
Negotiations over other points of concern for both sides will continue, however. The SSA-N, which has been fighting the Burmese army since March last year, will seek to set in concrete regulations surrounding the presence of government troops in its territory in the eastern Burmese state.
That has been a bone of contention for the group’s southern counterpart, generally referred to as the Shan State Army (SSA), which is also in high-level talks to cement a truce with Naypyidaw. So far the two sides have signed an 11-point initial agreement.
The Shan Herald Agency for News reported earlier this month that the SSA had demanded Burmese troops withdraw from Homong and Monghta regions of Shan state. In turn the government has asked the SSA to leave the township of Mongyawng in the east of the state, which lies alongside the Mekong River on which a number of Chinese freight ships have been attacked by Shan militias in recent months.
The deal with the SSA-N comes just over two weeks after the Karen National Union agreed a tentative ceasefire with the government for the first time in more than six decades of fighting.
What implications these deals will have for Burma’s border regions, many of which have hosted long and sometimes brutal conflicts, remains to be seen – although detailed breakdowns of the ceasefires remain unknown, ethnic armies were likely granted business concessions by the government and allocated areas of territory in which to operate in.
The SSA-N’s relations with its southern counterpart have fluctuated over the years: until March last year it had abided by a ceasefire first signed in 1989, but demands from Naypyidaw that government-allied armed groups become Border Guard Forces were refused, triggering fighting.