Myanmar ethnic militias failed to agree on ceasefire

Myanmar ethnic armed groups failed to agree on highly anticipated national ceasefire with government

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Myanmar ethnic armed groups have failed to reach an agreement on signing a highly anticipated national ceasefire with the government during a meeting in northern Thailand, local media reported Tuesday.

Some of the 18 rebel groups want to delay signing the accord until the government agrees to allow their allies to sign as well, while others want to go ahead without the excluded groups.

Delegates at the meeting in Chiang Mai say they are hoping to reach an agreement by the end of Tuesday's discussions, the Myanmar Times reported.

The government, which has been pushing for a ceasefire agreement for almost three years, has shut out three armed groups who have been fighting with the Myanmar army in the troubled Shan State in the east of the country.

Some of the most powerful rebel groups, including the Kachin Independence Army and the United Wa State Army, have said they will refuse to sign without the others.

The government has said it expects to ink an agreement in early October. President Thein Sein wants the deal signed before a general election on Nov. 8 that will be seen as a test for Myanmar's political reforms.

Tens of thousands of civilians were displaced early this year when fighting between the government’s army -- known as the Tatmadaw -- and Kokang-ethnicity rebels erupted near the Chinese border.

The Kokang rebels are excluded from the talks, along with two other groups who joined them to fight the Tatmadaw.

Meanwhile, bouts of fighting have flared up elsewhere in Shan and Kachin states. Around 250 people have been forced to flee their homes in recent weeks in Mansi township in the northern rice-producing state of Kachin, the Times said.

The Kachin Peace Network has reported at least three villagers dead in the area, adding that a two-year-old child and a woman have been severely injured by mortars fired by the Tatmadaw.

Civil war has raged for decades in Myanmar's mountain and border regions, with ethnic groups seeking greater autonomy from the military regime, which is dominated by the Bamar -- the country's largest ethnic group.