The first nationwide ceasefire talks were held in Rangoon from 5th to 8th March at the Myanmar Peace Centre (MPC) In Rangoon.
On one side of the talks are the government and the Tatmadaw (Burmese Army) on the other the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), which represents 16 ethnic armed groups.
Both sides have produced their own first drafts, but they are yet to reach an agreement so another round of talks will be held on 19th and 20th May.
The government draft included six points from the Tatmadaw Army Chief. These were:
1.To achieve and have a real desire for a permanent peace.
2. To keep promises agreed upon in the text of the peace agreement.
3. No one is to profit from the peace agreement.
4. To not cause suffering to anyone.
5. To respect all the country’s existing laws.
6. To accept the 2008 constitution and move along the path to democracy.
The NCCT have said they cannot accept points 5 and 6.
On their part the government have said they cannot accept the NCCT using terms like revolution, federal and self-determination in their drafts.
The NCCT believe that the talks will hit further difficulties because the Tatmadaw refuse to contemplate the ethnic armed groups persistent demands for federalism and autonomy.
Regarding the Tatmadaw’s fifth point: under existing laws some ethnic armed groups are classed as unlawful. Once the ceasefire was signed, in accordance with existing laws, members of those groups would be arrested.
Also the NCCT will not accept the 2008 constitution, which many people are protesting against at present.
The point of signing a national ceasefire is questionable if the Tatmadaw continue to launch offensives in ethnic areas despite having signed state and union level ceasefires.
The UNFC has also pointed out that while both sides are working to achieve a ceasefire the government is also resupplying troops and building up their numbers so that they are in a position to launch major offensives in Kachin State and Northern Shan State.
It appears that the President cannot control the Tatmadaw as they have ignored his orders to stop offensives in ethnic areas. Despite this the President insists that a national ceasefire agreement between the ethnic armed groups and the Tatmadaw should be reached as soon as possible.
IMNA concludes that there are many obstacles to a nationwide ceasefire agreement and that it will not be easy to achieve.