BANGKOK – Two armed ethnic groups agreed to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement proposed by the government of Myanmar as one of the key policies of its de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, according to authorities on Wednesday.
Representatives from the Mon National Liberation Army and the armed wing of the Lahu Democratic Union met State Counselor Suu Kyi and Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces, separately on Tuesday in Naypyidaw on the progress of the agreement.
“I thank our ethnic national brothers and sisters and ethnic Mon and Lahu nationals for helping in the enduring existence of the union, peace in the union and development based on peace. I believe we are not doing this for ourselves but are taking the next step for the next generation,” said Suu Kyi, as quoted by state newspaper Global New Light of Myanmar.
However, National Reconciliation and Peace Centre General Secretary Naing Aung Min did not mention when the signing ceremony would be held.
So far, a total of eight armed ethnic groups have signed the ceasefire agreement that was drafted in 2015.
Suu Kyi presided over the “21st Century Panglong Conference” – launched in August 2016, with the third meeting expected in February, that addressed formula for federalism in Myanmar attained through a peace accord.
The Myanmar army’s open conflicts in the northeast of the country are with different armed ethnic groups including the Kachin Independence Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army of the minority Kokang people.
A greater level of autonomy, one of the principles in the Panglong Treaty signed in 1947, is the main call of almost all ethnic minorities in Myanmar, including Chin, Kachin, Karen, Kokang, Kayah, Mon, Rakhine, Shan and Wa, and together they represent more than 30 percent of the country’s population of 53 million.
Panglong, a name of a city in southern Shan State, was where the treaty was signed in 1947, leading to the establishment of the independent republic a year later.
Myanmar, which was under military rule between 1962-2011, elected its first democratic government, led by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party on Nov. 8, 2015.