Myanmar authorities and ethnic Karenni rebels agreed Thursday to form a panel to monitor a ceasefire forged after decades of fighting and to hold consultations on development projects in war-torn Kayah state as part of an eight-point accord they signed after peace talks.
The government and the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) also agreed at the meeting in the Kayah state capital Loikaw to clear land mines and resettle some of the thousands of people displaced by years of fighting which ended with a ceasefire about a year ago.
This week’s talks—led on the government side by Minister Aung Min and on the KNPP side by deputy chairman Khun Oo Reh and military chief General Bee Htoo—were the third round between the two sides and aimed at strengthening the ceasefire deal.
KNPP joint secretary Shwe Myo Thant said the latest round of talks had yielded some positive results, including plans for a 10-member peace monitoring committee.
“We had good, positive progress in discussions about military affairs, and we also agreed to discuss what we need to do in further talks,” he told RFA’s Myanmar Service after the meeting.
“We agreed to form a local joint peace monitoring committee with two representatives and three community leaders from each side to observe and control ceasefire situation and progress toward peace,” he said.
Thein Sein to invite Ban Ki-moon
The talks also touched on future political discussions, with both sides agreeing to cooperate on moving toward conducting a political dialogue involving all of Myanmar’s armed ethnic groups.
Top government negotiator Aung Min told the Loikaw meeting that President Thein Sein was preparing to respond to calls by ethnic minority groups for a federal political system, news reports said.
Thein Sein wanted to invite U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to witness the signing of a nationwide ceasefire agreement with all of the country’s armed ethnic groups, Aung Min was reported as saying.
The KNPP, whose 1995 ceasefire deal with Myanmar’s previous military junta government broke down after three months, is one of a dozen armed ethnic groups to have signed individual ceasefire agreements with Thein Sein’s reformist government since it took over two years ago.
Many of the groups have called for the establishment of a federal union as a prerequisite to lasting peace as Myanmar carries out reforms following decades of military rule.
Another issue of concern has been ensuring that ethnic minority members see the benefits of business development projects in their areas as Myanmar opens up to foreign investment amid the reforms.
Shwe Myo Thant said that at this week’s meeting, the KNPP and had agreed that opinions would be solicited from local residents “when further big development projects are planned in Kayah state.”
“We will work on local development projects by discussing them with the state government,” he said.
Reported by Yadanar Oo for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.