Peace accord is approved, but holdout armies mean fighting will continue

09 December 2015
Peace accord is approved, but holdout armies mean fighting will continue
Fighting continues in Shan State. Photo: SSA

The Myanmar Parliament approved an agreement called the Nationwide Ceasefire Accord (NCA) with eight ethnic armed groups on Tuesday, but it doesn’t mean the end of fighting.
The largest break-away ethnic armies did not take part in the accord, which was signed by President Thein Sein in October.
The key rebel armies – the Kachin Independence Army, Shan State Army and United Wa State Army – failed  to sign the agreement. A key issue for the holdout factions was demands for autonomy in the resource-rich areas of northern and eastern Myanmar. 
Under the October 15 deal, the two sides agreed on some post-ceasefire steps, the Xinhua news agency reported.
The two sides are set to draw up a political framework within 60 days and start a political dialogue within 90 days.
The framework for political dialogue between the government and ethnic armed groups was completed by a special drafting committee of the tripartite Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC), which comprises representatives from the government, ethnic armed groups and political parties.
The draft framework for political dialogue is expected to be approved by the UPDJC on December 14. The first round of formal dialogue is scheduled to start before January 14.
The peace process began in November 2013 when the government's Union Peace Making Work Committee (UPWC) and ethnic armed groups' National Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) met in Myitgyina, the capital of Kachin State, for nationwide ceasefire talks.
Ethnic minorities in Myanmar, many of whom are Christians,cite discrimination and a lack of government services in border regions compared with the Bamar population, who are mostly Buddhists. An estimated 40 percent of Myanmar is composed of minority ethnic groups, many of whom have their own language.
Large parts of the country are controlled by well-armed ethnic armies, some of which are funded by resource exploitation and the sale of drugs.