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Thein Sein’s ‘Bold Peace Initiative’ Gives Hope



SSA-South chief Lt-Gen Yawd Serk (center-left), shakes hands with Burmese minister for railways Aung Min


The Burmese government on Friday signed a ceasefire agreement at state level with the Shan State Army-South (SSA-South), one of the major ethnic militias in Burma’s restive border regions, while its military operations show no sign of abating in Kachin State.

According to official sources at the meeting in Taunggyi between representatives of the Shan State administration and the SSA-South, led by Brig-Gen Sai Lu, the agreement included not only a ceasefire, but government assurances of economic development, a joint-task force working against illegal drugs in Shan State, and the opening of liaison offices.

Sources say the next step in the truce is to hold a series of negotiations between a Union-level peace committee and the SSA-South.

“The ceasefire agreement was signed today with consensus on eight points,” said a participant at the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The first is the ceasefire itself, then the delivery of the ceasefire agreement to all related troops; also there will be continuous talks on the subject of peace and development; working together on anti-drugs operations; and the opening of liaison offices in five townships in Shan State—Taunggyi, Kengtung, Kolan, Tachilek and Mongton.

“If any problems arise, both sides will resolve them,” he added.

Two Union minsters, Aung Min from the Ministry of Railways and Khin Maung Soe from the Ministry of Electric Power-2, attended Friday’s meetings and signed the Shan State peace agreement as a witness.

From the Shan State administration side, the leading representatives were named as: Col Aung Thu, the minister of Border Affairs and Security; Shan State Chief of Justice Maung Maung; and General Staff Officer (Grade-1) of Triangle Regional Command Lt-Col Zaw Tun Myint.

The meeting on Friday was the second this week between the Burmese government and an ethnic militia.

On Tuesday, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), led by Chairman Lanyaw Zawng Hra, met with a government delegation including the two leading members of the Peace Building Committee, Aung Thaung and Thein Zaw, as well as Aung Min.

They met in Ruili in China’s southern Yunnan province. However, no agreement was made, though both sides agreed to further meetings.

KIO officials said that while the government officials only want to talk about a ceasefire, the KIO wants political resolutions and long-term peace.

“We hope there will be further talks for peace, though no exact date has been set,” said La Nan, the joint-secretary of the KIO. “We, the KIO, want political dialogue for concrete peace. However, the government army’s military offensives are ongoing in our state.”

Meanwhile Kachin news websites, such as the Kachin Land News and the Kachin News Group, reported that villages in Kachin’s Bahmo District and in northern Shan State were burned down by government troops this week.

On Nov.19, Aung Min, who acted as a special envoy of President Thein Sein, met with delegations of the SSA-South, the KIO, the Karen National Union, the Karenni National Progressive Party and the Chin National Front in the Chiang Rai district of northern Thailand.

At the time, SSA-South chief Lt-Gen Yawd Serk reached an informal agreement with Aung Min after a 90-minute meeting.


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