The Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) has agreed to hold union-level peace talks with the government to solidify an initial truce made in January.
The group has agreed to embrace a federal union based on the historic Panglong agreement, which was led by independence hero General Aung San and brought together Shan, Chin and Kachin leaders to discuss autonomy in 1947.
“We haven’t set the time yet but we assume the government will propose a date,” said spokesperson Sai La.
Continued clashes between rebels and government forces have been reported since the initial truce was signed in January. Sai La said this could be due to miscommunication between military commanders and troops at the frontline.
He added that the Shan State Progressive Party (SSPP) – the political front of the SSA-N – intended to pursue democratic means to secure political agreement and has appointed seven members to a negotiating committee.
The announcement comes just as democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi describes her historic by-election victory as “the beginning of a new era.”
Fighting between the SSA-N and government forces broke out again in March 2011 after the rebels refused to join a proposed government-led Border Guard Force unit.
On 28 January 2012, rebels met with the government’s peace delegation as part of the regime’s drive to make peace with ethnic groups across Burma. Preliminary ceasefire agreements have also been reached with the Karen National Union and the Shan State Army – South.
A ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Organization was broken in June last year, and has already led to the displacement of over 75,000 people. Ending ethnic conflict will be a critical test for the new government, which Suu Kyi has vowed to make a top priority.