Ethnic negotiators likely to meet government in July

24 June 2015
Ethnic negotiators likely to meet government in July

Ethnic armed groups are likely to hold informal talks with the Myanmar government toward a national ceasefire agreement in the first week of July in Chiang Mai, Thailand, a negotiator from the ethnic side said Tuesday,according to the Global New Light of Myanmar on 24 June.
The revelation came from Nai Han Tha, one of three ethnic delegates who met informally with a government delegation led by Union Minister U Aung Min at Myanmar Peace Centre in Yangon on Monday.
The meeting was aimed at paving the way for further negotiations between the government and a new high-level nationwide ceasefire coordination team appointed by the ethnic armed groups at the recent Law Khee Lah summit to finalize the approved draft text for the ceasefire.
“We proposed to hold an informal meeting between a delegation led by Union Minister U Aung Min and senior delegates of ethnic armed groups inChiang Mai next month, but no exact date is set yet,” said Nai Han Tha, who is vice-chairman of the New Mon State Party and leader of the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) which comprises 16 ethnic armed groups.
The role of the new ethnic negotiating team in finalizing the draft peacedeal was explained to the Union ministers and party at the meeting on Monday, Nai Han Tha added.“The informal talks with ethnic peace negotiators are likely to take place in Chiang Mai in the first week of next month,” U Hla Maung Shwe, senior adviser at the MPC, said, adding that the likelihood of further formal talks should beclearer after the Chiang Mai meeting.
The government indicated readiness to sign the draft accord as soon as possible. However, ethnic armed organizations held a conference to seek final approval of the draft deal in Law Khee Lah in Kayin State in early June. The Law Khee Lah summit concluded with an agreement by the 16 NCCT members to sign the draft ceasefire accord, but only if some amendments were made. 
“Signing of the draft deal must be inclusive of all ethnic groups,” Nai Han Tha said. Moreover, the ethnic side created a new 15member negotiating team comprising nine new membersplus six members of the previous NCCT team. Further amendments to the draft deal are minor and mainly changes in wording, Nai Han Tha said.
The government side sought explanation of the reasons for forming the new negotiating team, and asked for the final deal to be approved with no changes, he said. Asked whether the government’s peace negotiating team might find it hard to build trust with the new ethnic negotiating team, Nai Han Tha said the six existing NCCT members had already established trust with the government.