Ethnic leaders arrive for Laiza ceasefire talks

A file photo of Gen. Gun Maw Sumlat of the KIO, who will host the Laiza talks this week. (PHOTO: Neils Huby/ DVB)

Representatives of various ethnic armed groups arrived at the headquarters of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) in Laiza on Monday for a conference on the nationwide ceasefire.

Many observers expect the Laiza talks to have significant bearing upon the peace process in Burma.

The Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), made up of 16 ethnic militias, is due to sit for negotiations in the Sino-Burmese border town on 24– 26 July, when they will review and discuss terms and conditions for a ceasefire that could end decades of war with Burmese government forces.

“First and foremost, we look to review the nationwide ceasefire draft and stipulate conditions for its signing,” said Gen. Gun Maw, the deputy commander-in-chief of the KIO’s armed wing Kachin Independence Army, and the main negotiator for the hosts at the talks.

“We must also include a work plan for future political dialogue after a ceasefire is reached.”

He confirmed that the All-Burma Students’ Democratic Front and other non-NCCT actors have been invited to the talks in Laiza.

“We invited both NCCT and non-NCCT members, and are looking to engage with delegations from non-NCCT groups after and on the sidelines of the members’ group meeting.”

Representing the Mon, the Karen, the Karenni, the Shan, the Kachin, the Chin and the Arakanese Buddhists, the NCCT is the most comprehensive alliance of ethnic actors to assemble in recent history. The most notable exclusions are the Shan State Army-South and the United Wa State Party.

The NCCT was formed at a meeting in Laiza on 30 October 2013. It held its second conference at the Karen National Union’s (KNU’s) headquarters at Law Khee La in January this year.

The KNU’s General-Secretary Saw Kwe Htoo Win said, “We believe that [this meeting] will bring us closer to reaching a nationwide ceasefire.”

By NAW NOREEN (DVB)   

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