“The people need peace, they desire peace and they expect peace”.
Claire Bernish(The Pontiac Tribune) – The Myanmar government has reached an historic ceasefire agreement with 16 armed ethnic groups, bringing about the first signs of peace for a country gripped by civil war and unrest for over sixty years. The Union Peace Working Committee (UPWC) and Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) reached the agreement after a year of negotiating during which China and the UN acted as observers. The Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) signed today, “is a signal that new levels of trust, confidence and cooperation are possible between former enemies and that the seeds of change in Myanmar are beginning to sprout”, said UN Special Adviser Vijay Nambiar in a statement. The UN also called the pact between the 16 ethnic groups “a historic and significant achievement”, though continued fighting in northern border areas cast a shadow on the proceedings.
Myanmar’s Pres. U Thein Sein took office in March 2011, and has been working to implement more democratic measures after an era of military dictatorship. He praised the NCA as “opening the road for political dialogue” and addressed the representatives in Yangon by saying, “The people need peace, they desire peace and they expect peace”.
Negotiations have been tense and though the ceasefire offers hope for reform, details have not been released and no date has been set for the final draft to be signed. Myanmar gained independence from Britain in 1948, and many of the armed groups have been fighting ever since over issues such as desired individual group autonomy and rights to natural resources. U Thein Sein and his reform party have helped deregulate the censored media and released many political prisoners in an attempt to bring democracy to one of Asia’s poorest countries.
Despite the need for ironing out details and setting a final date for implementation, the NCA “is a first step towards a larger dialogue for settling the political and military issues that will pave the way for an inclusive and harmonious future for Myanmar”, according to Nambiar’s statement.
(Feat. Image: U Aung/Xinhua Press/Corbis)