The Myanmar government on Thursday (Oct 15) signed a ceasefire agreement with eight ethnic armed groups, a potentially significant accord that aims to end decades of intermittent civil wars in the country making a fragile transition to democracy from years of stifling military dictatorship.
The signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Accord (NCA) took place in the capital Naypyitaw between government signatories including army chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and representatives from the armed groups.
It was witnessed by local and international observers from countries such as China, Japan, India and Thailand. India sent its National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Joint Intelligence Chief R.N. Ravi.
This week, the Myanmar government’s chief negotiator, Cabinet minister Aung Min, wrote in a commentary: “The NCA is the first small step towards bringing our fractured society of many different ethnicities and religions into a dialogue to shape the future of our country on equal terms.'’
Only half of the 16 armed groups which had agreed to the draft text in March actually signed the final agreement - touted as the reformist President Thein Sein’s legacy. But this agreement is better than none, its supporters have said, and the president has said it will remain open for other groups to sign when they are ready.
The eight groups who signed the ceasefire were the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front, Arakan Liberation Party, Chin National Front, Democratic Karen Benevolent Army, Karen National Liberation Army-Peace Council, Karen National Union, Pa-O National Liberation Organisation, and the Shan State Army - South.