by Feng Yingqiu
NAY PYI TAW, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar government and two more ethnic armed groups signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Accord (NCA) in Nay Pyi Taw Tuesday, making a step forward in the country's peace process.
The join-in signing of the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Lahu Democratic Union (LDU) to the government's NCA has brought the total of such signatories to 10 since the first signing with eight armed groups on Oct. 15, 2015.
Representing the government side in the signing included President U Htin Kyaw, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Services Sen-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, while NMSP Chairman Nai Htaw Mon and LDU Chairman Kya Khun Sar signed on behalf of their respective armed groups.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who is also chairperson of the National Reconciliation and Peace Center, expressed welcome for the two armed groups which she said have taken a bold step in laying down a corner stone for the emergence of a democratic federal union in the future.
She described the signing of the NCA as being not the end of the peace process but only the beginning of a long quest for peace, the beginning of political dialogue and armed conflict reduction. She said that through the dialogue and negotiation, political issues could be resolved.
She added that the ceasefire will lift the country out of poverty and allow Myanmar to compete on the global stage.
The State Counselor noted that Myanmar has lost much energy due to armed conflicts since time of regaining independence and the instability had resulted in lagging behind in many areas in development.
She urged the remaining armed groups to come to the political negotiation round table under the government's future program, while continuing to work with organizations which have already signed the NCA to consolidate the ceasefire process.
Sen-Gen Min Aung Hlaing also called on all ethnics to cooperate in the endeavors for the emergence of a peaceful, modern and developed union.
NMSP and LDU, which are members of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), are the first two armed groups signing the NCA in time of the incumbent government, led by the National League for Democracy (NLD).
The two fresh signatories will join the upcoming third meeting of the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference.
Following the 2015 initiation of the NCA, the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conferences were held twice during the incumbent government in August 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 third meeting of the Panglong Peace Conference is likely to be held later this month for further discussion of unfinished fundamental principles on federalism as well as the formulation of new principles.
Aung San Suu Kyi has called for 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.