Myanmar to go ahead with nationwide cease-fire agreement

The Myanmar government will go ahead with a planned cease-fire agreement next month even if it fails to bring onboard the Kachin Independence Organization, a major rebel group, a high-ranking official said Thursday.

The government hopes that the two remaining ethnic rebel groups, including the KIO, will join others when it sends out invitations to converge and sign the planned nationwide cease-fire agreement next month, Aung Thein, deputy minister at the Presidential Office, told a group of senior Japanese editors in Naypyitaw on Thursday.

If the KIO and the other smaller ethnic group, Palaung, choose not to sign the agreement, the government, copying the practice used sometimes by the United Nations, will leave the agreement open for them to come and sign later when they are ready, he said.

"We will invite all the ethnic minority rebel groups...and I think all of them would come in and sign the agreement eventually," Aung Thein added.

The Myanmar government led by President Thein Sein has been engaging in a self-initiated peace-process with ethnic minority insurgent groups since 2011.

The state-sponsored Union Peace Work Committee has so far been able to secure cease-fire agreements with a total of 14 ethnic groups including major insurgency forces such as the Karen National Union, which has been fighting for self-determination for over 60 years.

There are at least 16 ethnic armed groups in Myanmar according to official reports.

After having them sign the nationwide cease-fire agreement, the government plans to move further into the process holding political dialogue with all the ethnic groups, to discuss more details including "power sharing" and "national resource sharing," Aung Thein said.

Such issues will be negotiated to be able to find an agreeable balance among all the parties concerned, in accordance with the Constitution, he said.

Aung Thein did not disclose exactly when and where the nationwide cease-fire agreement would be signed, but Information Minister Aung Kyi, whom the same group of Japanese editors met Thursday, said he anticipates it would be in the capital Naypyitaw.