Outlawed ABSDF Meets Govt to Discuss Ceasefire

By Nyein Nyein 22 May 2013

An outlawed student armed group fighting against the government’s army in ethnic border areas met government officials on Tuesday, hoping to set the stage for a ceasefire and political dialogue.

Representatives from the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF) and the government said they were satisfied after two days of meetings in Rangoon.

“Our meeting focused on the technical issues of the ceasefire and the ABSDF’s role in the peace process,” said Kyaw Ko, part of the ABSDF’s negotiation team, which was led by the group’s general secretary.

Hla Maung Shwe, the government’s peace broker at the Myanmar Peace Center, said the two days of talks went well.

“We discussed the group’s participation in the political dialogue in the future,” he said. “And they are prepared for this platform.”

It is the second time the student group has met the government’s peace negotiation team, led by Minister Aung Min. After joining the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) to fight government troops in north Burma’s Kachin State, the student armed group also met with government peace negotiators in Rangoon four months ago.

Kyaw Ko said both sides spoke openly this week and were optimistic, agreeing to schedule a future meeting after reporting back to their respective leaders. “The schedule of the next talk is not yet known exactly,” he added.

The ABSDF formed in 1988 after nationwide pro-democracy uprisings, as students fled their homes to the border areas. The group fought against the former military regime for more than two decades.

The meetings on Monday and Tuesday included a government team from the Myanmar Peace Center led by Col. Kyaw Soe Win and five ABSDF representatives who will return to the border on Friday.