Ethnic bloc readies for ceasefire talks with govt

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    The Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), an alliance of 16 ethnic armed groups, said it has established a 10-point set of guidelines for pursuing peace talks with the Burmese government, and that it has appointed five committees for attending to a future accord.

    The 10-point plan includes clauses aimed at establishing Burma as a genuine federal union, the group said.

    The ethnic bloc concluded a summit of talks on Thursday in the Sino-Burmese border town of Laiza, headquarters of the Kachin Independence Organisation, where some 100 representatives agreed terms for a draft ceasefire ahead of a 3 August meeting with a Burmese government delegation in Kachin State capital Myitkyina.

    Sunday’s talks in Myitkyina will be focused primarily on technical details ahead of a further round of ceasefire talks which, if successful, may finally conclude decades of civil war in Burma.

    The Laiza round of talks gathered leading members of most of the main ethnic armed groups in Burma, and included delegations representing the Karen, Karenni, Kachin, Chin, Arakanese, Shan and Mon nationalities. On the fourth day of the negotiations, the UN’s special envoy to Burma, Vijay Nambiar, sat as an observer, as did Tang Ying, the assistant to China’s newly appointed Asian affairs representative.

    Speaking to DVB after the summit, a Chinese embassy spokesman said, “We hope both sides will soon agree on the terms of nationwide ceasefire and wish the two sides will sign an agreement at the earliest possible time. We believe that nothing can be achieved without political stability. We wish that Myanmar citizens enjoy the fruit of political stability and economic development as Chinese citizens are enjoying now.”

    Having concluded its four-day summit in Laiza on 28 July, the NCCT turned its attention the following day to briefing non-NCCT actors, such as the All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF) and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), the political arm of the Shan State Army-South.

    The ethnic representatives then sat on 29- 31 July to appoint a “political leading committee” and four other committees to represent their interests in the crucial negotiations ahead.

    NCCT member Mahn Nyein Maung, representing the Karen National Union (KNU), said, “The Political Leading Committee will be given a mandate to provide political supervision on matters where the NCCT is unable to come to a decision among its delegates.”

    Alongside the 10-point plan, the NCCT announced that it had appointed the following five committees:

    1. Political dialogue leading committee;
    2. Preparing committee for ceasefire monitoring process;
    3. Working committee for drafting a framework for political dialogue;
    4. Preparing committee for conducting a military code of conduct;
    5. Working committee overseeing the humanitarian and resettlement program.

    The ABSDF announced that it had agreed the 10-point set of guidelines, however the RCSS delegation said it would need to report the details back to its headquarters. Representatives from United Wa State Party, National Democratic Alliance Army and National Socialist Council of Nagaland did not attend the summit although they were invited. The Laiza talks marked the third summit held by the NCCT; the first was also held in Laiza, in October- November 2013, while the second summit was hosted by the KNU at its headquarters in Law Khee Ler, Karen State, in January this year. The NCCT is also due to sit for talks later next month with the Myanmar Peace Centre’s technical team and the Union Peace-making Work Committee, headed by the government’s chief negotiator, Aung Min.

    Source: www.dvb.no