RCSS play wait-and-see on nationwide ceasefire decision

The Restoration Council of the Shan State (RCSS) has released a statement saying the group will only make a decision on the signing of a nationwide ceasefire agreement after it sees the results of the upcoming meeting between more than a dozen ethnic armed groups and a Burmese government delegation scheduled to be held next month in Karen state capital Hpa-an.

In its 9 November statement, the RCSS said that with regards to the 11-point agreement reached at a conference in Laiza earlier in November, the RCSS is “completely in agreement in principle”.

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“Concerning the signing of the [ceasefire] agreement, however, the RCSS will make a decision after approval by the Committee for Shan State Unity (CSSU) and the upcoming meeting between the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) and the Union Peacemaking Work Committee (UPWC), over the 14-point Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement proposed by the Myanmar government, to be held at Hpa-an in Karen State in December 2013,” the statement said.

Maj Sai La, a Shan army spokesman, elaborated by saying that the RCSS will sign the agreement only if the talks in Hpa-an can guarantee a genuine ceasefire.

“Although we already have a ceasefire agreement in place, there are still clashes taking place,” he told DVB. “Therefore it is necessary that all concerned parties sign the agreement in order to end the clashes.

“The relevant individuals – the decision-makers – were not present at the three previous meetings when we signed agreements, and this made it difficult to implement the agreements,” he said. “When I say ‘relevant individuals’, I am talking about the commander-in-chief, the chief of staff and regional military commanders.”

Sai La said the RCSS will submit its viewpoints and suggestions to the ethnic coalition NCCT and the UPWC ahead of the Hpa-an talks.

“We will be making the suggestion to hold separate negotiations for the ceasefire and for political dialogue,” he said. “Military decision-makers should be included in the ceasefire talks,”

He said a date should be set to initiate political dialogue and noted that such a meeting should include all concerned parties, not only armed groups.

The RCSS was the only armed group out of 18 represented at the Laiza talks on 30 October– 3 November which refused to sign an agreement to conditionally support a nationwide ceasefire.

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