Sunday, August 20, 2017

Ethnic groups to decide on May talks today

Armed ethnic groups will decide today whether they will meet government peace negotiators in the second week of May, as previously planned, or delay the talks because of recent fighting in Kachin State.

Members of the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), the body that negotiates on behalf of most armed groups, will make the decision at a meeting in Chiang Mai, said Padoh Kwel Htoo Win, the deputy head of the team.

"Some members are considering postponing the meeting planned for May but it is not certain. We will decide at the end of  meeting this evening whether to meet the government peace team," he told The Myanmar Times on April 29.

NCCT members have been locked in talks on whether to postpone the meeting since April 28. At the planned May meeting, both sides were expected to agree on a final draft of the nationwide ceasefire proposed by President U Thein Sein’s government.

However, the recent fighting in Kachin State, which broke out shortly before the water festival holiday and is believed to have resulted in at least 30 casualties on both sides, has made that prospect extremely unlikely. 

"Over the past two days we have spent a lot of time discussing the ceasefire draft. Some members now have new doubts over the peace process and the signing of a nationwide ceasefire agreement will be delayed even if we meet with the government peace negotiating team in May," Padoh Kwe Htoo Win said.