Karenni leader Abel Tweed, who is chairing the last day of talks in Laiza among some 100 ethnic delegates of the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), said on Monday that the ethnic alliance was “hoping for the best, but would also prepare for the worst”.
The Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) chairman made the comments to delegates and observers as a final round of negotiations got under way in Laiza, the headquarters of the Kachin Independence Organisation, where ethnic leaders from 16 armed groups have gathered to thrash out the second draft of a nationwide ceasefire proposal which has been jointly written by ethnic and Burmese government representatives.
“I would like to stress that while we are hoping for the best with regard to President Thein Sein’s ceasefire deal, we also need to prepare for the worst and, more importantly, continue to promote unity among all the different ethnicities based on lessons learned in the past,” said Abel Tweed at the opening of Monday’s conference.
“The ceasefire deal offered by [former] Gen. Khin Nyunt did not bear a single fruit – we failed to reach union-level ceasefire talks because we were working individually, not as a coalition.”
At the first two days of the meeting, the NCCT reviewed and discussed the draft ceasefire’s first four chapters. The last day of the meeting is expected to focus on the remaining chapters.
In March 2012, Abel Tweed and the KNPP signed a bilateral ceasefire agreement with Naypyidaw. A previous truce, signed in 1995, dissolved within three months.
The conference in Laiza is the third summit held by NCCT members as the nation works towards achieving an inclusive, state-level peace accord. While the Burmese military initially created an August deadline for signing the pact, disagreements between Union-level stakeholders and the NCCT have caused delays. Sources close to the process have estimated that the two sides will reach an agreement in September.