Myanmar signs 12th peace agreement
IANS & REUTERS
YANGON THE Myanmar government has signed a 20-point peace agreement with the Kayinni National Progressive Party (KNPP), which represents 12th ceasefire accord with ethnic armed groups in the country.
The agreement was signed in Loikaw, the capital of Kayah state, on Wednesday.
It will facilitate a ceasefire and formation of peace-making groups for talks with government.
The development comes in response to a peace offer by President U Thein Sein on August 18, 2011 to end the armed insurgency in the country.
Meanwhile, the government peace negotiators reopened talks with Kachin rebels on Thursday in a bid to settle a stubborn conflict that could impact tentative Western efforts to lift sanctions on the country.
A government source with knowledge of the talks confirmed that a delegation from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) met negotiators in the Chinese border town of Ruili to try to thrash out truce terms and end fighting that has displaced an estimated 50,000 people since June 2011. A deal with the Kachins would clear a major hurdle for the new civilian government in its drive towards “everlasting peace” after decades of on-off fighting in the ethnically diverse, resource-rich country.
Western nations have made a successful peace process with separatist groups operating in the country one of their main demands for lifting sanctions.
Preliminary ceasefires have been reached with most of the 16 armed ethnic groups or political organisations that have responded to President Thein Sein’s appeal last August for all sides to start dialogue.
The government is initiated a multi-layered process to bring about peace in the country. The peace process, according to government officials has three stages; ceasefire, political negotiations, then a parliamentary conference to ratify agreements.
The government has promised to resettle refugees and bring development and foreign investment to ethnic areas. The fighting in Kachin State is one of the biggest obstacles for the government’s ongoing reform drive.
Thein Sein and the armed forces chief have instructed troops not to attack the Kachins but fighting continues unabated and it is unclear which side is driving the conflict.