Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Preliminary ceasefire reached through Kachin talks

Myanmar on Thursday reached a preliminary ceasefire agreement with ethnic minority Kachin rebels, an official negotiator said, after two years of fighting that has sparked international concern.

Meeting on home soil for the first time since the conflict flared up in 2011, Kachin and government representatives signed a seven-point plan which includes an agreement to halt hostilities, Min Zaw Oo told AFP.

"The agreement is to stop fighting at this point and afterwards there are going to be detailed discussions about the repositioning of troops," Min Zaw Oo, a director of the EU-funded Myanmar Peace Center who was at the meeting, told AFP from the Kachin state capital Myitkyina.

The bloodshed in the northern state of Kachin bordering China has -- along with religious unrest elsewhere in the country -- overshadowed widely praised political changes as Myanmar emerges from decades of military rule.

Representatives of the Kachin Independence Army and President Thein Sein's reformist government held three days of talks in Myitkyina. Previous rounds of negotiations had been held across the border in China.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's special adviser on Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, also joined the meeting for the first time as an observer, along with representatives of China and other ethnic minorities.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced in Kachin since June 2011, when a 17-year ceasefire between the government and the rebels broke down in the remote, resource-rich northern region.

The military's use of air strikes against the KIA in December caused an international outcry.

While the rebels reacted cautiously to subsequent government pledges to end the military offensive, fighting has eased in recent months.

The Kachin, who want greater autonomy, say any negotiations should address their demands for more political rights.