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The Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), representing 17 ethnic armed groups, met with the government’s Internal Peace Making Working Committee (IPMWC) in Rangoon last weekend. There they reached an agreement to form a joint-committee to draft the nationwide ceasefire agreement based on frameworks prepared by each side.
DVB reporter Aye Nai interviewed Hla Maung Shwe of the Myanmar Peace Centre — mediators in the peace talks.
Q: What was the outcome of the meeting?
A: Both groups are looking to push ahead the nationwide ceasefire to facilitate political dialogue, and for that, the NCCT and the IPMWC are to work together to resolve disputes in the frameworks and achieve a single pact.
Q: What kind of individuals will take part in the committee? Will they be high decision-makers?
A: Members from both sides will be provided equal roles – specifying chapters; verifying and poising disputed definitions; and working out details for the political dialogue. We have informed the NCCT that the nine members to be appointed by the IPMWC will be three each from the Tatmadaw [Burmese Armed Forces], the Parliament and the government. The NCCT will nominate their members in an upcoming meeting planned for 19 and 20 March.
Q: There will be seven chapters in the nationwide ceasefire draft. What is the ETA on its completion?
A: The main issue we are facing in the talks is each side wants to use their own respective frameworks as the model for the final ceasefire agreement. We see a lot of mutual points in the two frameworks, so the plan is to specify these mutual points under relevant chapters and to settle the disputes – I think this should be pretty much done after about two or three meetings.
Q: Does this mean the talks between the government and ethnic armed groups in Hpa-an planned for later this month will be postponed again?
A: The Hpa-an talks will see the final discussion between the armed groups and the government before signing the nationwide ceasefire agreement in Naypyidaw. The meetings in between are basically steps leading up to the final discussion in Hpa-an – but yes, it is likely, under current circumstances, that it will be postponed until April.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: Only that I feel last weekend’s meeting was extremely positive.