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Shan Herald: Being serious about peace

Being serious about peace

It’s been almost 15 months since President Thein Sein invited all armed movements fighting against Naypyitaw for peace talks.

Since then, his negotiators have met at least 15 of them and have concluded ceasefire agreements with 13, namely:

United Wa State Army - 6 September 2011

National Democratic Alliance Army - 7 September 2011

Democratic Karen Benevolent Army - 3 November 2011

Restoration Council of Shan State / Shan State Army - 2 December 2011

Chin National Front - 10 January 2012

Karen National Union - 12 January 2012

Shan State Progress Party / Shan State Army - 28 January 2012

Karen Peace Council - 7 February 2012

New Mon State Party - 25 February 2012

Karenni National Progressive Party - 7 March 2012

Arakan Liberation Party - 5 April 2012

National Socialist Council of Nagaland - 9 April 2012

PaO National Liberation Organization - 25 August 2012

The two other groups it has met and talked but still yet to reach agreement are Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF) both of which it is still fighting against.

Some KIO officials however have claimed there is no need for another ceasefire agreement since it had already signed one on 24 February 1994. The only thing needed is for Naypyitaw to adhere to it.

Another group that concluded a ceasefire agreement in the same year as KIO is Kayan New Land Party (KNLP) whose active area is known by some as the Four Corners, where Shan State, Karen State, Karenni (Kayah) State and Mandalay Region meet.

Naypyitaw has also agreed to start political dialogue with the groups collectively. During the meeting with the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), the alliance of 11 armed movements, 6 of which have concluded ceasefire last month, its chief negotiator U Aung Min even proposed the 4 topics that need to be discussed and agreed before the actual talks begin:

Framework of the dialogue
Agenda or talking points
Time frame
Technical assistance
All in all, few can deny the peace process is though slow, moving forward.

However, if Naypyitaw is really servious about peace, it should also make itself unquestionable about the following lingering questions:

Why hasn’t it declared a nationwide ceasefire that would have cleared the doubts from several quarters?

Why it keeps saying it has concluded ceasefire agreements with 10 groups when it actually has done it with 13?

Which 3 groups are not counted and Why?

Why Naypyitaw have funds for war but not for peace?

Why did U Aung Min say he had to spend from his own pockets until last month, when EU handed him 700,000 euros?
Honest answers by U Thein Sein government, I’m sure, will help accelerate the peace process and not hamper it.