- Maung Thaung Win (Ex-diplomat)
The news last week that two more ethnic armed groups, the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Lahu Democratic Union (LDU) would sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) was met with near-universal praise. Now is the time for other armed groups to join in moving further forward in the process towards a lasting peace, officials and citizens said.
The following are reactions from diplomats, private citizens, military leaders, the State Counsellor and others in praising the actions of the NMSP and the LDU and urging other groups to follow their lead.
“It was heartening to watch the reactions which appeared on social media on 23 January, 2018, that people were anxious to see this auspicious news on television. I also watched this news in detail on the evening television programmes. As a Myanmar national, I feel full of vigour to hear this kind of news at the right moment. The peace process is, of course, now gaining momentum. By the time I watched this news programme, I felt like writing an article due to burning desire which can further foster the peace process of our country”.
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
After State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi received delegations from the NMSP and LDU, both of whom agreed to sign the NCA, at the National Reconciliation and Peace Centre (NRPC) in Yangon, she expressed her delight at the progress made towards peace.
“In order to gain enduring peace in our country, I believe we can proceed step by step, which is of paramount importance for all of us, and every single step we are retracing now is not only for ourselves but also for our new generations to come”.
The delegation from the New Mon State Party was led by its Chairman Nai Htaw Mon, and the delegation from the Lahu Democratic Union was led by its Chairman Kyar Khun Sar.
Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing
Likewise, Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing received New Mon State Party (NMSP) Chairman Nai Htaw Mon and Lahu Democratic Union (LDU) Chairman Kyar Khun Sar separately in Bayint Naung Hall in Nay Pyi Taw, on 23 January, 2018.
“Armed conflicts have started since the time of our independence, and successive governments tried to bring peace throughout the ages. As for our Tatmadaw, we are ready and willing to work hand-in-hand with all the armed ethnic races in order to cooperate together. I would like to urge all of them to cooperate with us without any doubt so that we can build an enduring peace process which is based on mutual-respect.” said Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
After the NMSP and LDU sign the NCA, there will be a total of 10 ethnic groups who have become signatories. This is indeed auspicious news, because this gives us hope after years of strife and many fits and starts in the peace process. It is an appropriate time to see how far we have come in hopes of inspiring others to continue the current progress.
Unity is strength
Judging from the internal conflicts of our country, few can deny that the cause of conflicts has arisen mainly on account of the wedge that was driven by the colonialists between those who hold different political ideas. Whatever political beliefs one may hold, the union can be thrown into complete disarray because of disunity. As the saying goes, “United we stand, divided we fall”. As long as all our regions and states are united, our union can stand tall among the countries of the world in dignity.
An endeavour for peace
With the aim of building a perpetual peace, the former government had invited armed ethnic groups to set up a framework from which they could hold discussions from basic level to union level at the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw. Efforts were being made to reach agreement from this peace-making process.
In order to sign the NCA , top-level Peace Talks were held on 9 November, 2013 in Hlaing Zar, Kachin State, and another peace summit was also held in Law Khee Lar, Kayin State on 2 June, 2015.
Negotiations were made with the Union Peace-Making Central Committee (UPCC) and ethnic-armed group and several discussions were held to sign the NCA.
During the final stages of drafting the NCA, agreements were made on seven chapters, including 33 paragraphs and 86 sub-paragraphs.
After reviewing the final parts of the agreements, preliminary agreements were made on 31 March, 2017. As a result, the NCA was made and finalised in August, 2015.
The Union Government, the Hluttaw, Tatmadaw and ethnic-armed groups signed the NCA on 15 October, 2015.
If all ethnic armed groups signed NCA, displaced persons could live peacefully in their own homes. For the children, they would be able to pursue their studies without any difficulties. Smooth and efficient transportation systems would be possible, making for faster shipping of goods that will make commodity prices fall. All this will result in higher living standards for local residents.
Fruits of peace
The situation now has changed in the right direction because ceasefire agreements between the government and ethnic-armed races have been made across the country. It is heartening to see that people can enjoy the fruits of peace and stability and the benefits of earning a peaceful living. Especially in these areas, infrastructures such as roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and telecommunications offices have been built and local people can now travel freely from one place to another. Everyone can witness that their ways of life and living standard have increase dramatically.
Find a way to sign the ceasefire agreement
It is sorrowful to see that some ethnic armed races from the north and north-east parts of Myanmar haven’t signed the ceasefire agreement with the government. Consequently, these areas still remain underdeveloped and innocent children and elderly persons have had to move to IDP camps for their food and shelter. It is high time for the ethnic-armed races to find a win-win solution with the government; thereby a fruitful result will come out so as to bring peace and development in the regions.
All in all, people who are peace lovers aspire to see the NCA, which is their ultimate goal in their lives. It is incumbent upon the ethnic armed races to find a solution with the government and Tatmadaw by peaceful and sincere means so that we can build perpetual peace. It is cause for rejoice to know that the New Mon State Party and Lahu Democratic Union will sign the NCA very soon, and all the citizens are looking forward to this auspicious news which can usher in all the blessings to all the nationals.
Win Ko Ko Aung)