By NAW NOREEN
Representatives of the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) began talks with government peace negotiators in Rangoon on Wednesday morning to discuss the next steps in drafting what will ultimately be a single-text nationwide ceasefire agreement covering all the ethnic armed groups in Burma.
The eight-member NCCT delegation was led by Karen National Union General-Secretary Saw Kwe Htoo Win while the government team, known officially as the Union Peace-making Work Committee (UPWC), is made up of nine delegates, three each representing the government, the parliament and the Burmese military.
“The government delegation is headed by Union Minister U Aung Min and I understand that there will be three representatives each from the government, parliament and the Tatmadaw,” said Hla Maung Shwe, an official from the Myanmar Peace Centre (MPC) which is mediating the talks.
Hla Maung Shwe told DVB that the MPC are expecting that the talks, which are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday in the former Burmese capital, will produce definitive results on about 80 percent of the subject matter on the table.
A seven-chapter draft framework for the nationwide ceasefire agreement was outlined by the government and the NCCT at a previous round of talks in Rangoon in March.
However, following a later NCCT meeting held at the end of April in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, the ethnic alliance announced that it could not accept proposals by Burma’s Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, who submitted a six-point “wish-list” to the ethnic groups, including clauses that each NCCT member would “fully abide” by the country’s existing laws, and undertake democratic reforms in conformity with the 2008 Constitution.
Earlier this month, Burmese officials accepted an invitation by the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) to resume bilateral peace talks in the troubled northern state.
Burma’s President Thein Sein has pledged to facilitate political dialogue after the nationwide ceasefire agreement has been signed by all concerned parties, and has expressed a wish to have an accord signed before August this year.
The NCCT is currently made up of 17 ethnic armies, many of whom have fought the central government for autonomy for decades.