Myanmar state media confirms pact with rebel group
Myanmar state media today confirmed an initial ceasefire deal had been reached with one of the country's major ethnic guerrilla groups.world Updated: Dec 04, 2011 14:21 IST
Myanmar state media on Sunday confirmed an initial ceasefire deal had been reached with one of the country's major ethnic guerrilla groups.
The pact was signed at a ceremony on Friday by representatives of the Shan State Army South and the local government in the northeastern state, the New Light of Myanmar said, after a mediator said of the pact on Saturday.
The "initial agreement" was designed "in order to build peace at the invitation of the government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar," and was witnessed by national ministers, the English-language paper said.
The ceasefire, signed in the Shan State capital Taunggyi, was the latest sign that the new army-backed regime is reaching out to its opponents in Myanmar, which has made a series of reformist moves in the past year.
Civil war has wracked parts of the country since its independence in 1948, and an end to the conflicts, as well as alleged human rights abuses involving government troops, is a key demand of the international community.
The Shan State Army South has been one of the biggest rebel forces still battling the government, with thousands of guerrilla fighters mostly stationed near the border with Thailand.
Myanmar's leaders last month held peace talks near the Thai-Myanmar border with several ethnic groups fighting a long-running struggle for autonomy and rights, according to people involved.
"They (the Shan State Army South) are the first group who signed the peace agreement among the five groups that we have met," Hla Maung Shwe, founder of the civil society group Myanmar Egress, told AFP after witnessing the pact.
Mediators were also trying to reach peace agreements with the Karen National Union, the Kachin Independence Army, the Chin National Front and the Karenni National Progressive Party, he added.