Myanmar's govt, armed groups agree on ceasefire

Representatives of Myanmar government's National Reconciliation and Peace Centre (NRPC) and four ethnic armed groups issued a joint communique late on Saturday following their meeting in Kengtung, Shan state, earlier on the day, reports Xinhua. The four armed groups are Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF) or Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Myanmar National Truth and Justice Party (MNTJP) or Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the United League of Arakan(ULA) or Arakan Army (AA).

Matters relating to stopping the ongoing armed engagements were discussed in order to sign a bilateral ceasefire agreement and then a nationwide ceasefire agreement, the communique said, adding that matters related to deployment of forces and rules and procedures to prevent outbreak of fighting were also agreed to be discussed with the military representatives.

Both sides pledged in the communique to make efforts with full political will towards stopping the ongoing armed engagements for national reconciliation and union peace. The meeting set the holding of the next round of meeting from September 16 to September 17 without confirming the venue.

Three armed groups of northern Alliance involving AA, TNLA and MNDAA launched coordinated attacks at five places in Mandalay region and Shan state on Aug. 15, killing 15 with 13 others injured. The shelling hit some military structures in Nawnghkio and destroyed some bridges on Hsenwi-Kunlong road. The major towns of Lashio and Kutkai also came under attack.

Meanwhile, Myanmar military announced on Saturday extending the suspension period of its operations against armed groups for 21 more days until September 21, aimed at enabling all stakeholders to continue engagement in the peace process. The Myanmar military had extended the non-operation period for three times before, from December 21, 2018 to April 30, 2019, from May 1 to June 30 this year and from July 1 to August 31 this year, respectively.