Myanmar president holds talks with ethnic rebel leaders

The Myanmar president has held a talk with key ethnic rebel leaders and is keen to have ceasefire signed before November election.

Myanmar president holds talks with ethnic rebel leaders

World Bulletin / News Desk

Myanmar’s President Thein Sein held impromptu talks with leaders from three ethnic armed groups Friday following a summit held by rebels this week.

The three groups are among 17 rebel militias who have agreed on the wording of a ceasefire text following three years of negotiations with Myanmar’s government.

Thein Sein, a former general who retired from Myanmar’s military to lead the semi-civilian government, met with leaders from the Restoration Council of Shan State, the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the National Democratic Alliance Army.

Information Minister Ye Htut posted pictures of the meetings on his Facebook page but did not offer further details.

The president is keen to have the agreement signed before an election due in early November that is considered as a key step toward democracy after decades of military rule.

The meetings took place during a presidential visit to Kengtung, eastern Shan state, where Thein Sein once served as a regional commander for Myanmar’s military as it battled various ethnic rebel groups around the country.

Many of Myanmar’s civil conflicts have raged for more than six decades.

Rebel leaders met this week to discuss the ceasefire deal at a summit at UWSA headquarters. They repeated calls for a federal system and expressed support for granting statehood to Wa territory, a region of Shan state under the UWSA’s control.

During the summit, another three groups who are members of the ethnic coalition that has been negotiating with the government objected to being excluded by the government from political negotiations.

They included the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, a militia from the Kokang region, where intense fighting in recent months has displaced tens of thousands of people.

The UWSA, a powerful and heavily armed militia, has called for the inclusion of all armed groups in the ceasefire process. If that demand were to be met, it would mean renegotiating the ceasefire text due to objections from those who have so far not been included.

The general secretary of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, another of the three groups, told the Irrawaddy news website there were “many points” he did not agree with in the preliminary draft text agreed on by his allies.

Tar Bong Kyaw said it was “very clear” the government was “trying to divide the alliance of ethnic armed groups.”

He added: “This is very dangerous.”

Güncelleme Tarihi: 08 Mayıs 2015, 17:53