Burma – also known as Myanmar signs ceasefire with rebel groups. This represents the culmination of more than two years of negotiations aimed at bringing an end to the turmoil and tumultuous armed conflicts that have devastated the country for so long.
The government, based in the capital city of Naypyidaw, has signed the ceasefire agreement with eight armed rebel groups, which predominantly represent ethnic interests against what they perceive to be continued discrimination against cultural and religious minorities in the country. While still a monumental agreement, the ceasefire deal fell short, as the government has not managed to get seven other armed rebel groups, from the intended 15, to the negotiating table.
After taking power four years ago, in 2011, President Thein Sein has promised a series of game-changing reforms. He promised a nationwide ceasefire during his presidency and used this idea as his main electoral agenda.
The absentees were a major setback for the President – he had hoped to reach a ceasefire agreement with all insurgent groups ahead of the November 8 general elections. Nonetheless, President Sein has claimed that the current ceasefire deal is still a “historic” agreement which will bring much-needed peace to a country marked by years of conflict and violence.
President Sein has said that the deal reached with the rebel groups is a gift passed down by the current government to future generations. He further stated that this represents an important step in building a more stable and peaceful society in Burma.
“This is our heritage. The road to future peace in Myanmar is now open,” said the President at the end of all negotiations.
Among the signatories of the agreement is the Karen National Union, which has fought one of the world’s longest-running conflicts against the Myanmar government for the past 70 years. However, Thein Stein has said that, while this is a great achievement for the peace process, he will continue to push for future negotiations with remaining ethnic rebel groups in the country.
The US has also put significant pressure on the Myanmar government to reach the deal with the rebels and to implement certain reforms that would assure the civil rights of minorities will be protected.
State Department spokesperson John Kirby has said that the United States commends all sides for their efforts to put an end to “the longest-running civil conflict in the world.”
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