The Tatmadaw (armed forces) has proposed for the nationwide ceasefire to be signed by August 1, according to representatives from the government and ethnic armed groups.

During a two-day conference held at Myanmar Peace Center (March 9-10), the two sides released a joint announcement with five points, including a commitment to draft the nationwide ceasefire agreement together. This agreement will have seven chapters.

“We have told them to sign the agreement. We told them that we wanted to sign the ceasefire by August 1, 2014. They said they would try to sign it before that date,” Lieutenant-General Kyaw Swe said after the conference.

Hlan Hmone from the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) said that an August 1 deadline seems realistic.

“The military said they wanted to do this before August. We want to do it earlier. As we now have the committee, there’s no need to compose a new draft. We only need to combine the two drafts submitted by them and us, so I don’t think the work will be that difficult. I think it will be finished quickly,” he said.
Lieutenant-General Myint Soe said he was “very satisfied” with the results of the two-day conference and expects the ceasefire agreement to be signed without any special persuasion.

“I really want to thank the military side for this two-day conference. The commander-in-chief himself has made it the priority of [senior military officials] to obtain peace without failure. As he has made this his duty, we have seen the true desire of the military to obtain peace. This is a very good development for the country,” said Hlan Hmone.

Delegates from both sides will meet in Yangon during the first week of April to negotiate military affairs in detail.

“Everything will be included there. We will be able to talk about it at that time. The date for holding the Hpa-an conference will depend on this conference. The Hpa-an conference will be the last stage, where we sign the agreement. As for the military side, we really wanted peace so all of us have come to attend this conference,” said Lieutenant-General Myint Soe.

Naing Han Tha from NCCT said that both sides reached many points of understanding during the two-day conference, so the signing of the nationwide ceasefire is drawing nearer. However, many challenges remain. These include how to establish a federal state as demanded by ethnic groups, how to amend the 2008 Constitution, and what troop settlements will look like in the future.

Five ministers, four lieutenant-generals, one major-general, and one colonel from the military, as well as three parliamentary MPs and a deputy attorney general attended the Yangon conference from the government’s side. Eleven delegates attended from the ethnic armed groups’ side.