Myanmar Government and 16 Ethnic Rebel Groups signed draft cease-fire agreement
The agreement that can be a significant step towards ending decades of conflict was reached after seven rounds of talks.
Myanmar Government and 16 ethnic rebel groups on 31 March 2015 signed a draft nationwide cease-fire agreement. The draft is aimed at ending more than 65 years of civil unrest and armed conflict in the country.
The agreement witnessed by Myanmar's President U Thein Sein was signed between the Union Peace-making Working Committee and the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team at the Myanmar Peace Centre in Yangon.
The agreement, reached after seven rounds of talks since 2013, agreed at resolving four points of contention. These include amongst others
• There will be a halt to recruitment by the armed groups
• Armed rebel groups’ territory and status were confirmed, and
• The nature and composition of the political dialogue
Now the negotiators from the armed rebel groups will consult with their leaders before giving final approval to the draft.
However, these talks were not attended by the rebels from the newest and most active conflict in Kokang.
The idea behind the draft ceasefire agreement is to bring all the rebels into a process that will lead on to talks on greater devolution of power and resources which is something that has been resisted by the Myanmar government since 1948.
The signing of the draft has been hailed by the United Nations (UN) which said that the move was a "historic and significant achievement" and provided a basis for "genuine and lasting peace in the country.”
The move is also a major victory for the Myanmar's semi-civilian government which made ending hostilities with the armed rebel groups a top priority since it took power in 2011 after 49 years of military rule.
Myanmar has been witnessing an armed internal conflict since 1948, few days after it attained independence from the United Kingdom (UK).
The country’s internal conflict between the Central government and a group of ethnic and political rebellions is one of the world’s longest running civil war. The ethnic groups are seeking greater autonomy since independence.