Myanmar peace process makes progress as more armed groups announce intention to join ceasefire pact

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-24 11:02:53|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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YANGON, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar's peace process is making progress with two more ethnic armed groups announcing their intention to join the government's Nationwide Ceasefire Accord (NCA).

Following their meeting with State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services Sen-Gen Min Aung Hlaing in Nay Pyi Taw Tuesday, the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Lahu Democratic Union (LDU) announced agreeing to sign the NCA soon, said a joint statement released by the two parties.

NMSP, led by Nai Htaw Mon, and LDU, headed by Kya Khun Sar, are members of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), which represents the non-ceasefire signatory group.

Meeting with the press, Aung San Suu Kyi expressed delight over the progress made towards peace, welcoming the two armed groups for promising to join hands with the government in the peace process.

"I thank our ethnic national brothers and sisters and ethnic Mon and Lahu nationals for helping in the enduring existence of the union, peace and development," she said, adding that "I believe we are not doing this for ourselves but are taking the next step for the next generation."

The intended join-in signing of the NCA by the two armed groups would bring the total number of such signatories to 10 and they would be allowed to participate in the upcoming third meeting of the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference.

More than two years ago during the tenure of the previous government, a total of 8 ethnic armed groups had signed the NCA on Oct. 15, 2015.

Following the initiation of the NCA, the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference was held twice during the incumbent government in Aug. 2016 and May 2017 respectively.

The second meeting of the peace conference was able to incorporate a total of 37 adopted principles into a union accord in the country's peace process for the first time in Myanmar's history.

The 37 adopted principles were signed by representatives of participating groups of the government, parliament, military, signatory armed groups to the NCA and political parties as Part- 1 of the Union Accord.

The third meeting of the Panglong peace conference is likely scheduled for next month for further discussion of unfinished fundamental principles on federalism as well as the formulation of new principles.

Meanwhile, a national level political dialogue with the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) or Shan State Army -South (SSA-S) and the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) is set to be conducted early this year.

Aung San Suu Kyi has called for all inclusiveness in the country's national reconciliation and peace process, reiterating the government's welcome of non-ceasefire signatory armed groups to join the signing of NCA and be inclusive in formulating the principles toward a democratic federal union in the future.

Several other groups which have not yet signed the NCA include the Kayinni National Progressive Party (KNPP), the Arakan National Council (ANC), the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).