05/02/2019, 13.31
MYANMAR
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Government meets northern rebels, extends truce

Peace talks between the government and the Northern Alliance took place in Muse. The four rebel groups have not yet signed the 2015 Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). A four-month truce came into effect on 21 December in Kachin and Shan states. ““The ceasefire period was extended until June 30,” a military spokesperson said. The parties will meet again in the third week of May. Hundreds of thousands of people have become refugees.

Naypyidaw (AsiaNews/Agencies) – There is new hope in Myanmar’s peace process after the country’s Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) extended by two months a unilateral ceasefire in place since last December in five regional commands in Kachin and Shan states.

No truce is in place in Rakhine State where government troops are engaged in a military campaign against the Arakan Army (AA), a Buddhist rebel force, and remain on high alert for possible actions by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), an Islamist insurgent group.

The Office of the Commander-in-Chief announced the extension on the last day of its original four-month truce, which started on 21 December

The decision came hours after peace talks ended for the day between the government and the Northern Alliance in Muse, northern Shan State, two days ago.

The four-member Northern Alliance includes the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Ta’ang Nationalities Liberation Army (TNLA), Arakan Army (AA) and Kokang’s Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA).

Unlike other rebel forces, these groups did not sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), put forward by the government in 2015.

Military spokesperson Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun said that Tuesday’s talks in Muse had been positive. He added that they would help the military achieve their goal of achieving peace by 2020.

“The ceasefire period was extended until June 30. The KIA, TNLA and MNDAA also requested the extension of the ceasefire,” he said.

Major Mai Aik Kyaw from the TNLA said the Northern Alliance members viewed the talks as constructive.

The government delegation, led by the vice president of the Peace Commission, and the representatives of the armed ethnic organisations (EAOs), agree on the need for further talks to reach bilateral ceasefire agreements. The parties will meet again in the third week of May.

Rakhine State was excluded from the truce because of the threat of actions by ARSA. But in recent months, government forces have stepped up actions against the AA as well.

Since 4 January, some 30,000 residents in northern Rakhine State have been displaced by fighting. Dozens of civilians have reportedly been killed, but the government puts the figure at 12.

Meanwhile, one of Myanmar’s most serious humanitarian emergencies is unfolding In Kachin. On 9 June 2011, Myanmar’s military and KIA ended a 17-year truce.

Since then, the two sides have clashed about 3,800 times in the predominantly Christian state in northern Myanmar.

As a result, about 150,000 people have become refugees, 130,000 staying in 165 camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) located in Kachin and northern Shan, and another 20,000 hosted in local communities.

Since 2011, 405 villages have been damaged or destroyed. Some 311 churches, 24 Buddhist monasteries, 34 kindergartens, 122 schools, and 264 clinics have suffered the same fate.

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