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Will secure peace take place in Myanmar?

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President U Thein Sein put on air that he would like to heartily hail the peace conference of the leaders of the ethnic armed groups that was held the end of October. It was a formal radio talk of the president of Myanmar (Burma) to entire people aired on 1 November. He said that he understand the conference as thrashing out the issues concerning the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement which is considered to have effect in the year-end.

The President said he's very happy to hear the constructive reflection at the conference. The talk's emphasis was on achieving lasting peace which all citizens have longed for, he said. Then, he reiterated welcoming all ethnic armed groups to the signing ceremony of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement after they successfully wrap up the peace conference.

U Thein Sein briefly explained via radio address the objectives of holding the signing ceremony of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. The holding of ceremony is to comply with the demands of the ethnic armed groups, he said. And reaffirm all existing agreements to open the peace dialogue process immediately after the signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, the President said.

He also confirmed once more that the peace process will not end with ceasefire. The government has committed to launch the political dialogue process from the foundation of ceasefires that already achieved.

"I am convinced that the Laiza peace conference of the leaders of ethnic armed groups will pave the way for the successful inauguration of the political dialogue process," U Thein Sein said in his last radio program.

However, a new option came up from the ethnic armed groups. Leaders of two major ethnic armed groups in Myanmar said on 5 November that the creation of a comprehensive military force is essential to any dialogue of forming a federal union.

Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP) leader Khun Htun Oo told RFA's Myanmar Service, "The ethnic proposed "army' is actually the same as the current army; people are just afraid of the name "federal army'."

According to Khun Htun Oo, only one ethnic Burman group should not control the entire country. A federal union or federal army should include all ethnic groups so that ethnic citizens can also have chance becoming generals or even commander-in-chief.

Similarly, Brig-Gen Sumlut Gun Maw, the Deputy Chief-of-Staff of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) also said on 22 November during meeting in Chiang Mai that to convince the government about a federal army was important to political talks. Recently, the government and the ethnic rebel groups have agreed in principle to sign a nationwide cease-fire agreement as a first step towards lasting peace after decades of fighting. They also agreed holding dialogue to patch up a durable political conclusion.

 "We will continue our discussion on forming a federal union later, because both sides must take part in discussions on how to form an army. We have to form this [army] according to the nation's constitution. The ethnic groups want to include this topic when both sides discuss the military issue," Gun Maw said.

The Chiang Mai meeting had focused on proposals for a federal state and the creation of a federal army, which Nai Han Thar acknowledged had been opposed by the government, as reported by Mizzima News.

"They do not want to accept our proposal to establish a federal army; they don't want their army to be reformed and reconstituted," he said, adding that the government wanted its authority and power to be "untouchable".

P'doh Saw Kwe Htoo Win, general secretary of the Karen National Union (KNU), said that the policies agreed at the Laiza talks would remain in play ahead of a round of cease-fire talks with the government, scheduled for December in the Kayin (Karen) state capital, Hpa-An.

The main points of the so-called "Laiza Agreement" consist of political dialogue heading toward a federal union in Myanmar and an deal to form a federal army.

In addition, while in Yangon on November 24, the secretary of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) said Myanmar's Commander-in-Chief must be among those who sign a nationwide ceasefire accord with armed ethnic groups.

"The Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services needs to sign the accord along with the President, two Vice-Presidents, speakers of both parliaments and the Chief Justice," UNFC secretary Nai Han Thar told a news conference at the Inya Lake Hotel. All of their signatures will help to ensure that a ceasefire is durable, according to Nai Han Thar.

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Zin Linn was born on February 9, 1946 in a small town in Mandalay Division. He began writing poems in 1960 and received a B.A (Philosophy) in 1976. He became an activist in the High School Union after the students' massacre on 7th July 1962. (more...)

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