Eight armed groups have now agreed to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with the Burmese government, with 15 October set as the date the historic agreement will be inked.
A joint-committee with 10 members from each side will organise the ceremonious occasion, which is scheduled to be held at the Myanmar International Convention Centre-II in Naypyidaw.
The Restoration Council of Shan State (commonly known as the Shan State Army-South) on Sunday became the eighth armed group to join the accord.
The Shan rebels join six other ethnic armed groups: Karen National Union; Democratic Karen Benevolent Army; Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army-Peace Council (a.k.a. Karen Peace Council); Arakan Liberation Party; Chin National Front; and Pa-O National Liberation Organisation; as well as the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front, all of whom have confirmed their intention of signing.
However, 12 other ethnic militias have declined to sign the NCA, standing by a decision to only sign the agreement when all groups are included.
The Burmese government and its military have refused to include three ethnic rebel armies – the Kokang-based Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army, the Ta-ang National Liberation Front and the Arakan Army – in the NCA, because they are still engaged in hostilities in the northeast of the country.
Meanwhile, the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) – the ethnic alliance that forms the backbone of the delegation during its nearly two years of negotiations with the government – released a statement on Saturday, reiterating its call for all stakeholders within its umbrella organisation to be allowed to participate in the peace process.
It further blamed the Burmese armed forces for the failure of the accord to include all ethnic signatories.
“The occurrence of widespread and ceaseless offensives against the ethnic nationalities by the government armed forces has been the main stumbling block to achievement of nationwide ceasefire and peace in the country,” UNFC stated.