panglong news 23.july 2013
A meeting attended by armed group representatives and resource persons last week had urged U Thein Sein’s government to revise the text of the nationwide ceasefire agreement to be signed in a special ceremony in Naypyitaw before the end of the year.
“By restricting it to just the 5 point guideline (as outlined by the President on 1 March 2012), the government would only be underming its own achievements,” a resource person reminded the meeting. “In other words, it would only be taking a step back, not forward.”
The government, since 18 August 2011, when it issued an invitation to all armed groups for peace talks, has already signed ceasefire agreement with 13 groups.
The agreements signed so far have also covered constitutional, political, economic, military and social concerns voiced by the 13 armed groups, that had incorporated in their Comprehensive Union Peace and Ceasefire Agreement (CUPAC) for the government to consider.
Naypyitaw, through the MPC, had responded on 12 July that garnering support for the armed groups’ draft within the government circles would take overly long, as the text was already a lengthy document (23 pages) ever without the Code of Conduct draft that is being negotiated separately between the Karen National Union and the Myanmar Army. “The military is naturally highly suspicious, as the draft was prepared by people who are also naturally very suspicious of the military,” one MPC member had put it.
A resource person who has been involved in peace processes in several countries also advised the participants of the need to keep the military well informed and happy. “According to my experience, the army is cooperative if they are fully informed,” he said. “If on the contrary they feel sidelined, then they are liable to become spoilers.”
The armed groups had responded earlier that the government could expect a no turn-up by them at the planned ceremony if the nationwide ceasefire agreement text was not revised. “We will need to look up in to the (CUPCA) draft which points are indispensable for inclusion in the ceasefire text and which are not,” said a participant. “But I would say that at least the following are key points:
- That a nationwide political dialogue will immediate follow the signing of the ceasefire
- That participants in the political dialogue are not subject to harassments during the talks
- That the framework presented by the armed groups would be discussed as a basis for the dialogue.”
The government, according to U Aung Min, Vice Chairman #2 of the Union Peacemaking Work Committee (UPWC), is planning to invite world dignitaries including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the planned nationwide ceasefire ceremony.