Two ethnic armed groups sign ceasefire agreement in Nay Pyi Taw
The New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Lahu Democratic Union (LDU) signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement at the Myanmar International Convention Center -II in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday, an event that State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi described as “only the beginning” of a long quest for peace.
“The NCA is not the end of the peace process. The NCA is the beginning of the peace process”, the State Counsellor said.
“The beginning of political dialogues, the beginning of reduction of armed conflicts; it is the beginning of the political process that will result from the resolution of political problems through negotiations, discussions and the joint search for solutions”.
Myanmar gained independence from Great Britain 71 years ago, but the country has endured fighting between ethnic armed groups and government troops for decades.
Dr. Tin Myo Win, Chairman of the Union Peace Commission (UPC) spoke first at yesterday’s ceremony, noting that it was a long process that resulted in yesterday’s signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). He said the UPC held multiple meetings with the Delegation for Political Negotiation (DPN) of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), of which the NMSP and LDU are members, over the course of 17 months. He said it started off with heated discussions but eventually all participants were able to build trust and focus on one vision throughout the rest of the meetings. The meetings started off with seven groups, but due to various circumstances only two groups made it to today’s signing. However, the UPC Chairman said they will continue working and meeting with the other non-signatories until they are able to participate in the NCA.
Kyar Solomon, the Deputy Chairman of the Lahu Democratic Union, said yesterday was a day that benefited Myanmar’s peace process.
“Only after signing the NCA is it possible to participate in political dialogue, and the LDU is motivated to be a part of each level of dialogue”, Kyar Solomon said.
The State Counsellor said a ceasefire that will result in long-lasting peace will lift the country out of poverty and allow Myanmar to compete on the global stage.
“Since the time we gained independence, we have lost much energy due to armed conflicts. Because there was no peace, there was no stability, and we lagged behind many areas of development”, she said.
“As a result, our country became one of the least developed countries. The universe, which is changing every second, and today’s world will not wait for our country. Are we going to leave behind the same country with armed conflicts for our new generations, or are we going to leave behind a unified and strong country worthy of respect by others?”
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi concluded her speech yesterday with an admonition that this was a favourable moment that should not be squandered.
“I wish to remind all of you not to waste this opportunity. Do not be timid to take a step forward. What we have to fear is the fear that lingers in our minds”, she said.
“However, behind us are people who have yearned and longed for pece for many years. Although their dreams have dimmed, their desires and hopes are still as brilliant as ever. Let us step forward bravely together with them”.
The signing ceremony was attended by monks led by Mawlamyine lower Bago Pariyati Monastery Sayadaw Agga Maha Pandita Bhaddanta Thilasara, President U Htin Kyaw, National Reconciliation and Peace Center Chairperson State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and Vice Presidents U Myint Swe and U Henry Van Thio. Also in attendance were Pyithu Hluttaw Speaker U Win Myint, Amyotha Hluttaw Speaker U Mahn Win Khaing Than, Union Chief Justice U Htun Htun Oo, Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Constitutional Tribunal of Myanmar Chairperson U Myo Nyunt, Union Election Commission Chairman U Hla Thein, Tatmadaw Deputy Commander-in-Chief Vice Senior General Soe Win, Pyithu Hluttaw Deputy Speaker U T Khun Myat, Amyotha Hluttaw Deputy Speaker U Aye Tha Aung and Chairman of Pyidaungsu Hluttaw’s Legal Affairs and Special Cases Assessment Commission Thura U Shwe Mann. The ceremony was also attended by National Reconciliation and Peace Center Vice Chairman Union Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor U Kyaw Tint Swe, Union Ministers, Union Attorney General, Union Auditor General, Union Civil Service Board Chairman, Nay Pyi Taw Council Chairman, Peace Commission Chairman, Mon State Chief Minister, Shan State Chief Minister, Central Bank of Myanmar Governor, Chief of Staff (Army, Navy, Air) and Tatmadaw high-ranking officers, Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC), representatives of political parties, Union level Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC-U) members, Nay Pyi Taw Command Commander, Deputy Ministers, ethnic affairs ministers, Hluttaw representatives, representatives of ethnic armed organizations (EAOs), NMSP Chairperson Nai Htaw Mon and party, LDU Chairperson Kyar Kun Sar and party, international witnesses signing the agreement, foreign diplomats and invited guests.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s message was followed by a speech by the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
Next, NMSP Chairperson Nai Htaw Mon delivered a message on behalf of NMSP and LDU.
Afterwards, a documentary film on the peace process was shown. An extract from the NCA was then read by Peace Commission Chairman Dr. Tin Myo Win and NMSP Secretary General Nai Aung Min.
The signing ceremony was held at the conclusion of the speeches, where President U Htin Kyaw, State Consellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Vice President U Myint Swe, Vice President U Henry Van Thio, Pyithu Hluttaw Speaker U Win Myint, Amyotha Hluttaw Speaker Mahn Win Khaing Than, Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Tatmadaw Deputy Commander-in-Chief Vice Senior General Soe Win, National Reconciliation and Peace Center Vice Chairman Union Minister U Kyaw Tint Swe, Union Attorney-General U Tun Tun Oo, Peace Commission Chairman Dr. Tin Myo Win, NMSP Chairperson Nai Htaw Mon, Secretary General Nai Aung Min, military chief Nai Layi Kaung, LDU Chairperson Kyar Kun Sar, Vice Chairman Kyar Solomon and central committee member Navis Bon signed the agreement.
Union Minister Nai Thet Lwin; U Khin Zaw Oo and U Khun Maung Thaung of the government; Hluttaw and Tatmadaw groups of UPDJC; U Thu Wei, Dr. Tuja, U Thein Tun of political groups UPDJC; U Thein Zaw and U Aung Soe of the Peace Commission; Lt-Gen Yar Pyae; Lt-Gen Min Naung; U Pyae Sone; U Maung Maung Nyein; Thura U Bo Ni; Rev. Saw Mathew Aye; Sai Myo Thant; U Ko Ko Gyi of JMC-U; Mon State Hluttaw representative Dr. Min Soe Lin; Minister for Mon Ethnic Affairs U Min Tin Win; Minister for Lahu Ethnic Affairs U Yaw Thet; and Minister for Shan Ethnic Affairs Daw Hmwe Hmwe Khin signed the agreement as in-country witnesses.
Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP H.E. Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, Special Envoy of Asian Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China H.E. Mr. Sun Guoxiang, Special Envoy of the Government of Japan for National Reconciliation in Myanmar H.E. Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, Deputy National Security Advisor of the Republic of India H.E. Mr. Rajinder Khanna, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand H.E. Mr. Virasakdi Futrakul, and European Union Ambassador to Myanmar Kristian Schmidt signed the agreement as international witnesses.—Myanmar News Agency