Thursday 29 September 2016

Burma ceasefire talks resume in bid to end 60 years of fighting

Published 22/07/2015 | 07:35

The talks have been going on more than 18 months (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)
The talks have been going on more than 18 months (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)

Armed ethnic groups and the Burma government have resumed talks as they try to reach a nationwide ceasefire agreement to end six decades of fighting.

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The chief government negotiator is pushing to cement a draft agreement but the parties have yet to work out some details, including which ethnic groups will sign the deal.

The talks have been going on more than 18 months.

There is pressure to finalise the agreement as soon as possible to ease preparations for a general election in November.

The ethnic groups are seeking greater autonomy.

"If negotiations fail and the military believe that the nationwide ceasefire agreement cannot be signed under the present government, they will have no choice but to launch military operations," said key negotiator Hla Maung Shwe.

He works for the Myanmar (Burma) Peace Centre, funded by the European Union, which was set up in 2012 to help with ceasefire negotiations and the ethnic peace process.

The prospect of reaching a deal as soon as possible, however, was uncertain.

Key details were still up in the air, including which ethnic groups will participate.

Negotiations hit a snag in June when minorities attending a summit asked the government to allow three other groups still at odds with the government to participate in the ceasefire signing.

When President Thein Sein assumed power in 2011, the armed groups operated in 55 townships across the country but that number has grown to 110 townships in 2015, according to research conducted by the centre.

Some ethnic armed groups like the Ta'ang National Liberation Army have increased their strength, it says.

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