Meeting in Laiza for pivotal talks aimed towards signing a nationwide ceasefire agreement, ethnic leaders of the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) debated on Friday whether to include the words “revolution” and “revolutionaries” in a draft document when referring to themselves.
Representing 16 ethnic armed groups, some 100 delegates have descended on Laiza, a Sino-Burmese border town in Kachin State, headquarters of the Kachin Independence Organisation, for the latest round of negotiations in a peace process initiated by the Burmese government.
Veteran Mon representative Nai Hongsar told DVB that the first day of talks focused mainly on the adoption of Section One–Basic Principles for any draft agreement.
“There was one important point. Shall we use the word ‘revolution’ in the title of the agreement?” said Nai Hongsar. “Other matters of terminology were raised – shall we refer to ourselves as ‘ethnic armed groups’ or ‘armed ethnic groups’? And are we aiming for a ‘ceasefire’ or a ‘cease of offensive activities’?”
He said the question of terminology had been referred to the leading committee of the NCCT which was appointed a day earlier with the Karen National Union’s Mutu Say Poe as chairman.
Dr. Salai Lian Sakhong, an advisor to the NCCT, said that on Friday the representatives had concluded Section One of the second draft of a nationwide ceasefire proposal.
“Today’s discussions finalised Section One – the Basic principles,” he said. “We have also included three or four alternative versions.”
The second draft of the nationwide ceasefire proposal was composed in Rangoon in May by a joint body of nine ethnic leaders and nine representatives from Naypyidaw: three each from the government, parliament and military.
A second day of negotiations in Laiza continues on Saturday, 26 July.