After much suspense, the 54-day-old Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) was approved without any dissenting votes by the Union Legislature yesterday, according 7 Day Daily, a Burmese-language news site.
“The NCA has passed its first critical test,” said U Tin Maung Thann, a special advisor to the government-established Myanmar Peace Center (MPC).
On Tuesday, during the parliamentary discussion over the issue, some lawmakers had said the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement was inaccurately named, as it was signed by only eight out of the country’s 16 ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) recognized by the government.
The non-signatories include powerful movements such as the Kachin Independence Organization/Army (KIO/KIA), the United Wa State Party/Army (UWSP/UWSA) and the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N). The signatories’ largest movements include the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army (KNU/KNLA) and the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army-South (RCSS/SSA-S).
During the second Joint Implementation Coordinating Meeting on November 17, participants passed a resolution to submit the NCA to the parliament, in accordance with Article 26 of the NCA, which states: “We shall submit this agreement to the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (Union Legislature) for ratification in accordance with established procedures.”
The meeting was also set up to oversee the activities of two bodies: Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee (JMC) and the Union Peace and Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC).
After the meeting, government representative and MPC chairperson U Aung Min promised that if the NCA was faced by tough opposition, “we will ask the parliament to place the NCA on parliamentary record, which is easier and also legally binding.”
The UPDJC has been drafting the Framework for Political Dialogue (FPD) and is due to meet next Monday, followed by the third JICM, which is expected to endorse it.
According to the text of the NCA, the country’s first session on political dialogue (also called the Union Peace Conference) is required to start by January 13 at the latest.
By SAI KHUENSAI / Director, Pyidaungsu Institute and Founder, Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N)