Ethnic Leaders Want Suu Kyi to Observe Signing of National Ceasefire

By Lawi Weng 19 August 2014

RANGOON — Leaders from ethnic armed groups met with Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi at her house in Rangoon on Monday to discuss the ongoing peace process.

Nai Hong Sar, head of the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), an alliance of ethnic armed groups, said the meeting was informal. “We decided to meet her because we were in Rangoon. She was interested when we told her our peace process plans,” he told The Irrawaddy.

Ethnic leaders declined to comment when asked whether they sought advice from Suu Kyi as they negotiate with the government to sign a national ceasefire accord. Nyan Win, a spokesman for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party, also declined to comment.

This is the second time ethnic leaders have met with the NLD chairwoman. Ethnic leaders say they want her to participate more in the peace process, even perhaps as an eyewitness during the signing of the nationwide ceasefire accord, which could come as early as October.

“We proposed this to the government already, but there has been no response yet,” said Khun Okkar, secretary of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), another alliance of ethnic groups.

Suu Kyi, a lawmaker in Naypyidaw, has herself expressed a desire to take a greater role in the peace process as the country attempts to recover from decades of civil war.

There will be another meeting between the NCCT and the government’s peace negotiation team early next month to hammer out remaining disagreements in the draft of the nationwide ceasefire accord.

The NCCT has proposed a list of third parties to participate in the signing of the accord, including observers from the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, China, France and the United Nations.