A repeatedly delayed meeting between the Burmese government’s Union Peace Working Committee (UPWC) and the ethnic armed groups’ Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) has been postponed again and will not take place until March at the earliest.
The meeting to discuss a ceasefire framework was to be held 20 February in Karen State capital Hpa-an, however ethnic groups said they needed more time for preparation, according to NCCT deputy-chair and Karen National Union general-secretary Kwe Htoo Win.
“We believe it to be more practicable to hold the talks in March as we are yet to finish preparation for the negotiation on our side,” said Kwe Htoo Win.
“We wouldn’t want the public to misunderstand us, or believe that we are trying to delay the peace process — we are just working to be well prepared in order to make a step forward from talks towards genuine ceasefire, and from there to a political dialogue.”
Representatives from 17 ethnic armed groups met 20 January for a five-day conference at the Karen National Union’s Lawkheela headquarters. A draft nationwide ceasefire framework was agreed upon by all but one of the attending NCCT delegation — The Shan State Army-South.
Naypyidaw’s chief negotiator Minister Aung Min received the draft proposal at a meeting between NCCT and IMPC in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Kwe Htoo Win said a March meeting in Hpa-an would see a final compact on the nationwide ceasefire between armed groups and the government.