The Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) has announced its intention to sign a nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) with the Burmese government.
The Shan armed group, also known as Shan State Army–South (SSA-S), says it will join seven other armed groups in inking the deal in Naypyidaw on 15 October.
Col. Sai La, an RCSS spokesperson, told DVB that the group made the decision at a leadership meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, despite engaging in clashes last month with the Burmese army in Mongpawn and Kho Lam townships.
“Our central committee members met on 6 and 7 October at the Loi Tai Leng headquarters and concluded that [signing the NCA] is the best option to bring about a long-term ceasefire and dialogue, and to peacefully resolve political issues,” Sai La said.
“More than 20 central committee members joined the meeting on the first day, and another 10 senior officials on the second day. A delegation led by the SSA-S Commander-in-Chief Lt-Gen Yawd Serk is now preparing to travel to the Burmese capital for the agreement signing.”
Speaking at a press release today in Chiang Mai, Thailand, the RCSS central executive committee urged the Burmese government to strongly consider its plea to halt all ongoing conflict in regions under the militia’s control. The committee also requested the government open additional ‘RCSS/SSA Peace-building Liaison Offices’.
An official at the Myanmar Peace Centre, an organisation that mediates peace talks between the government and armed groups, said some 1,000 people are set to attend the ceasefire signing event next Thursday. Domestic and foreign observers have also been invited.
Delegates from the eight armed groups and government representatives will attend a joint-committee meeting at the Myanmar Peace Centre in Rangoon today and tomorrow, tasked with organising the upcoming accord.
Naypyidaw had originally invited 15 armed groups to sign the NCA, but only eight so far have agreed to the terms, which exclude several groups engaged in ongoing hostilities with the government, such as the Kachin Independence Army and the Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army.
The rebel groups intending to sign are: Karen National Union (KNU); Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA); Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army-Peace Council (KNU/KNLA-PC); Chin National Front (CNF); All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF); Pa-O National Liberation Organisation (PNLO); Arakan Liberation Party (ALP); and new signatories RCSS/SSA-S.
Meanwhile, fierce fighting continues between government troops and various ethnic armed groups in northern Shan and Kachin states.
It was reported yesterday that fresh hostilities had broken out in central Shan State between government forces and the Shan State Army-North.
In an interview with Radio Free Asia (RFA) on 6 October, a Shan State Army-North spokesman said he believed the Burmese army had launched an attack on rebel positions as retribution for their decision not to join the ceasefire ceremony.
Read more about the peace process here.