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Myanmar national ceasefire pact may be signed soon: negotiator

The Myanmar government's chief peace negotiator Aung Min said on Monday (Aug 18) a national ceasefire pact could be signed soon, claiming significant progress in negotiations between the government and armed ethnic groups.. 

YANGON: The Myanmar government's chief peace negotiator said on Monday (Aug 18) a national ceasefire pact could be signed soon. Speaking to Channel NewsAsia, Minister of the President’s Office Aung Min said there has been significant progress in negotiations between the government and 16 major armed ethnic groups.

This is the first time political parties have joined the national ceasefire discussion. The latest round of negotiations has yielded positive results.

"There are four to five items left to be discussed in the first week of September,” said Aung Min. “I believe we are able to conclude the National Ceasefire Accord soon. We can then determine the exact date to sign this agreement. That is why political dialogue is essential. To achieve national reconciliation, all parties must be involved."

The government and the ethnic armed groups have agreed to conduct regular political dialogue once the ceasefire pact is signed. And in a major concession, the government will recognise federalism, which will give ethnic minorities more autonomy and guarantee democracy rights.

"There will be many problems to be solved,” said Vijay Nambiar, United Nations special advisor on Myanmar. “But I think that the movement towards a nation-wide ceasefire has been very positive and I think it should be imminent, it should be very soon. They have shown a certain amount of political sagacity in reaching out to the parties and in a sense, involving them so that there will be much greater constructive input from them."

Now with progress made in the nationwide ceasefire negotiations in Myanmar, many feel that this is an appropriate juncture to involve the various ethnic and political parties of Myanmar. However, many feel that this should not be a one-off effort. They're hoping that this regular tripartite dialogue will continue as part of the government's ongoing engagement process.

"The third party, the political parties need to have a chance to advise both sides to get the agreement about the national ceasefire accord as well as the political dialogue," said Dr Tu Ja, chairman of the Kachin State Democracy Party.

"Without the involvement of political parties, the political dialogue will not be successful,” added Saw Than Myint, vice-chairman of the Federal Union Party.

Finalising the pact is not guaranteed when the next round of talks commence next month. Some parties are concerned the government may be rushing the agreement, and in doing so, potentially compromising long-term peace. 

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