Ethnic ceasefire draft accepted ‘in principle’

The 14 point draft nationwide ceasefire accord presented by the ethnic armed movements was in principle accepted by the government’s technical team, according to the briefing given by Karen and Shan representatives at the Working Group for Ethnic Coordination (WGEC) meeting held in Chiangmai last Friday, 6 September.

“The wording as well as some specifics need some touch-up,” the Karen National Union (KNU) and Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) representatives were informed on 23 August in Rangoon.

Specifics include Human Rights issues (Point #13) where the WGEC has proposed regional independent Human Rights Committees be established. “A National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has been set up by the government,” the Myanmar Peace Center (MPC) was reported as saying. “The proposition therefore will need some careful treatment.”

Sao Yawdserk and RCSS delegation with U Aung Min and UPWC delegation, Larn Kham Village, Chiangmai, 7 September 2014 (Photo: Nyo Ohn Myint)

The 14 points proposed by the WGEC are:

  • Nationwide ceasefire
  • Establishment of Military Code of Conduct (COC)
  • Establishment of Joint Ceasefire Committee (JCC)
  • Establishment of Joint Peace Secretariat (JPS)
  • Location of armed contingents
  • Freedom of movement
  • Military cooperation
  • Liaison offices
  • Humanitarian issues
  • Political prisoners
  • Freedom of NGOs and INGOs
  • Land issues
  • Human Rights issues
  • Legal status of armed groups

The government, in turn, has agreed upon 4 points, according to the briefing:

  • Endorsement of the 14 state/region level and 19 union level agreements signed since 2011 with 14 armed groups
  • A waiver on the Unlawful Association Act
  • To hold negotiations on the framework for political dialogue
  • To hold a “New Panglong” Union Conference

A time table was also proposed by the MPC (on 24 September):

October 2013: Signing of Nationwide Ceasefire Accord
November 2013-March 2014: Negotiations on Framework for Political Dialogue (“during which the COC will also be negotiated,” according to the MPC)
April 2014-March 2015: Union Conference

The Nationwide Ceasefire Accord should also have 5 signatories on the government side, instead of 4 as proposed by the WGEC: Not only the President, Upper House Speaker, Lower House Speaker, and the Commander-in-Chief but also the Attorney General.

Among the witnesses, the MPC proposed, there should be national leaders such as Aung San Suu Kyi, Hkun Htun Oo and those from groups such as 8888 Generation Students. Among the world leaders, UN chief Ban Ki-Moon has already assured he would be at the signing ceremony.

On the resistance side, U Aung Min, Vice Chairman of the Union Peacemaking Work Committee (UPWC) reported to the meeting between Vice President Sai Mawk Kham and the Karen-Shan representatives on 31 August that 10 out of 14 groups that had concluded state level ceasefire agreements had agreed to attend the ceremony.

“We will also invite groups like the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) that has yet to sign a state level agreement,” U Hla Maung Shwe of MPC told the RCSS representatives on 15 August. “If they wish to be there only as observers and sign the accord only later, that’s okay for us.”

The MPC and the joint KNU-RCSS technical team will meet again this week to draft the Nationwide Ceasefire Accord.

The joint technical team that met the MPC on 23 August included Saw Htoo Htoo lay, Saw Kwe Htoo Win, Ta Do Moe, Sai La, Sai Ngeun, Dr Lian H.Sakhong and Naw San.


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