Burma: Initial accord with Mon rebels
|Publisher||Radio Free Asia|
|Publication Date||1 February 2012|
|Cite as||Radio Free Asia, Burma: Initial accord with Mon rebels, 1 February 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4f3a251b23.html [accessed 21 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
The Burmese government and the Mon armed ethnic group sign a preliminary ceasefire pact.
Government and ethnic rebel group representatives hold talks along the Thailand-Burma border, Nov. 19, 2011. Photo courtesy of Larry Jagan.
Ethnic Mon rebels agreed in principle Wednesday to a ceasefire with the Burmese military in the latest effort by President Thein Sein's nominally civilian government to forge peace pacts with various armed ethnic groups.
"We agree to a ceasefire proposed by the Burmese government in principle, which has a five-point preliminary agreement," said Naing Soe Myint, an official from the New Mon State Party, the political wing of the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA), which has fought for autonomy in eastern Mon State for more than half a century.
"But we will have to confirm the agreement after we hold a central committee meeting in our headquarters and get approval," he told RFA.
Naing Soe Myint said his group would press for a government ceasefire with armed groups across the country, and "to have a political discussion with armed ethnic groups within two months of a ceasefire."
The two sides will meet again in about the third week of February in a bid to confirm the agreement, he said.
The New Mon State Party agreed to set up liaison offices and restrict movement of weapons under the preliminary accord, a mediator told Reuters news agency from Mawlamyaing, the venue for the talks about 304 km (190 miles) east of Burma's biggest city, Rangoon.
The United States and the European Union have made peace with armed ethnic groups a condition for the lifting of political and economic sanctions, aside from releasing political prisoners and other key reforms after decades of harsh military rule.
Rights groups have accused the Burmese military of carrying out a brutal counterinsurgency campaign in ethnic minority areas involving the rape, torture, and murder of villagers.
The government has forged ceasefire deals with the Karen National Union (KNU) and Shan State Army-North (SSA-North).
But talks with the powerful ethnic Kachin rebels have been derailed by fighting that this week sent tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the border into the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan, sparking a shortage of crucial supplies, aid groups said.
Armed clashes between government forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) began last June, but have escalated into large-scale conflict since the beginning of the year despite efforts by both sides to initiate a ceasefire agreement.
Reported by Aung Moe Myint for RFA's Burmese service. Translated by Khin May Zaw. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.