Seventeen of 18 ethnic armed groups attending a conference in northern Kachin state have signed an agreement which could pave the way toward a nationwide ceasefire.
The only armed group in attendance that did not sign was the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) which reportedly wanted time to consult with Shan political parties and civic groups before committing itself.
Two other invited parties, the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), did not attend the summit; however, ethnic leaders at the Laiza conference on Saturday told DVB that they are confident the UWSA and NDAA will also sign once they explain the terms of the agreement to them.
The conference was hosted by the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and also included the participation of other major ethnic groups such as the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), the Karen National Union (KNU), the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) and the New Mon State Party (NMSP).
Hkun Okker, a spokesman for the conference, was reported by Xinhua as saying: “If negotiations on the ceasefire draft are approved, gunshots will no longer be heard after 2015.”
Many of the ethnic leaders have now headed to Myitkyina where a scheduled meeting between the KIO and a Burmese government delegation is due to commence on Monday.