Myanmar On The Verge Of A Historic Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement
At this critical moment, the international community should throw its full weight behind the NCA and stand ready to assist in its speedy implementation. Myanmar cannot move forward with either democratization or economic development, without a final and permanent halt to the fighting
Myanmar is one step away from an historic deal that could end seven decades of internal conflict. On August 6-7 representatives of the Myanmar government, including from its armed forces met with leaders of the country’s armed ethnic groups and finalised the text of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). The NCA took an year and a half of negotiations actively helped by U Myint Thant and required difficult compromises on all sides. It is no simple truce, but rather a complex set of military and political undertakings. It also provides early measures to begin comprehensive political talks about Constitutional reform and divisive issues of federalism and about a formal peace agreement that would permanently end the war.
The only outstanding question is which groups exactly will become parties to the NCA. The Government insists that the agreement initially be signed only by the fifteen armed groups with which it already has bilateral ceasefire agreements. It also wants to exclude three small ethnic armed groups, with whom the army has recently clashed as well as a few unarmed ethnic organisations. Much now rests on the willingness of the fifteen main groups to sign on the plan. The Kachin Independent Army (KIA) fought pitched battles with the government as recently as 2012 and feelings are still raw. The United Wa state army (UWSA) which enjoys full autonomy in the territory it controls is worried about losing its privileges.
At this critical moment, the international community should throw its full weight behind the NCA and stand ready to assist in its speedy implementation. Myanmar cannot move forward with either democratisation or economic development, without a final and permanent halt to the fighting.
What is the background that necessitated this crucial conference? We have to delve back into the origin and early history of Myanmar to appreciate the crucial importance of this meeting.
The people who settled in what is now the territory of Myanmar were anthropologically Mongoloid people who probably migrated from China and settled in the central plains and the eastern and western range of hills that together constitute the nationality of Burma or Myanmar today. The different Mongooid tribes who settled in Myanmar all belonged to different animist religions. Some time in the period of 300 BC when Ashoka was ruling in the Indian subcontinent, Buddhism was born in India and was adopted by Ashoka as the religion of the State. Emperor Ashoka then sent emissaries east, west, north and south to propagate this new religion. In Myanmar the Mongoloid peoples who lived in the Central plains adopted Buddhism. They were basically three groups—Burmese, and Mons who lived in the Central plains and Rakhines who, lived in the western plains of Myanmar . The d