Burma’s union parliament on Tuesday unanimously approved the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), signed in October by the government and eight armed ethnic groups.
Following the 15 October inking of the peace accord, the President’s Office submitted the document to the union parliament, known formally as the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, for the approval of lawmakers.
Lower house MP Doi Bu, of Injanyang Township in Kachin State, took part in the legislative discussion on 7 and 8 December.
“The minister [President’s Office minister Aung Min] stressed that the NCA must be approved – although it was only signed with eight armed groups – as it opens the door for negotiation with remaining groups in broader teams under the [incoming] new government,” Doi Bu said.
“The union parliament decided to approve the NCA, as although it was only signed by eight groups, all the remaining groups had also signed a preliminary agreement on the final draft,” she said.
In addressing the parliament on Tuesday, Aung Min said: “I would like to stress upon the lawmakers not to worry about the remaining groups.
“Various NCA non-signatory groups joined the ethnic armed organisations’ conference held in Panghsang from the first to the third of November. At the end of the event they announced their will to work with the new government towards achieving a nationwide political dialogue so we can assume the new government will be able to work more successfully on the peace process than the current one,” Aung Min said.
The opposition National League for Democracy MP May Win Myint said the NLD had refused act as a witness to the signing of the document in October as the party does not believe the agreement is truly ‘nationwide’ – amidst concerns that non-signatory groups could feel pressured if they had signed as a witness.
A ‘political dialogue’ – involving political parties as participants and non-ceasefire armed groups as observers – is contracted to commence within 90 days of the 15 October date. The dialogue will be protracted; enough so to cater for in-depth discussion of the agreement’s sweeping broad pledges.