Martial law in Kokang extended as govt, groups seek peace

Myanmar Eleven May 18, 2015 1:00 am #block_media{ position:relative; display:block; clear:both; } #tab_photo,#tab_video{ display:inline-block; width:60px; height:auto; padding:3px; position:absolute; top:-25px; left:500px; text-align:center; background-color:#ccc; color:#000; cursor:pointer; z-index:0; } @-moz-document url-prefix() { #tab_photo,#tab_video{ top:-26px; } } #tab_video{ left:564px; } #block_media .tab_media_active{ background-color:#0c3e6f; color:#fff; } #slides_box,.box-vdo-top{ z-index:600; } Parliament on Friday approved the Defence Ministry's request to extend a state of emergency in the Kokang Self-Administered Zone in Shan State, for another 90 days after the original order expired on Sunday. President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency and three-month period of martial law on February 17 in wake of fighting between government troops and rebel forces.

The situation in the region has not yet returned to normal, so martial law needs to continue, Defence Minister Wai Lwin said Thursday.

"The situation in Laukkaing is not stable and fighting continued as of Tuesday and Wednesday," the minister said. "The war is not finished."

The minister also said that of the nearly 90,000 people who have fled the region due to the conflicts, only some 11,000 have returned.

The war against the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) or Kokang rebels continues as the government and other ethnic groups are proceeding with their mission to end the decades-long civil war. The talks exclude MNDAA.

In March the United Nations hailed a draft ceasefire document as "historic", but efforts to ink a full deal have yet to bear fruit and have been shaken by on going conflicts in Shan state and neighbouring Kachin.

Union Minister Aung Min, vice chairman of the government's Union Peace Working Committee (UPWC), has urged all political parties to have trust in the national ceasefire accord (NCA). At the Forum on Peace and National Reconciliation, he said he believed in peace and he wanted all political parties to place their trust in the NCA.

"There is a lot of criticism regarding the NCA. They say it is incomplete. We will be going forward with political dialogue after the signing of the NCA is complete. President Thein Sein has only forbidden two things in the political dialogue: talk of separation and things that will upset governance. If there are necessary things left to add in to the NCA, we can discuss this. I request all political parties not to have suspicion but to trust and support the NCA," said Aung Min.

Representatives from 64 political parties, some ethnic armed forces and ethnic ministers attended the forum.

Leader of the United Nationalities Alliance (UNA) Aye Thar Aung said on May 8 that UNA members will not sign the peace and national reconciliation pledge that was signed by government officials, most political parties and some ethnic armed groups on Union Day in February 2015.

"At present, we are not signing the pledge because the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) and Union Peacemaking Working Committee (UPWC) have not sufficiently committed to signing it. Another concern is that if ethnic minority groups amend the bill for the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA), which was nominally agreed upon by the NCCT and UPWC, will it still be possible for the UPWC to agree? There are too many uncertainties in signing the NCA. Another aspect is that UNFC and majority of ethnic armed forces desire everyone to take part in signing the NCA. The government has designated only 16 groups, and there are many groups who have yet to sign," said Aye Thar Aung.

The UNA is comprised of ethnic political parties, including the political parties that were elected in the 1990 elections such as the Mon Nationalities party (MNP), the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), Zoemee League for Democracy. It also includes the Arakan League for Democracy (ALD), Shan State Kokant Democratic Party, Kayan National Party, Kachin National Democracy Congress and Karen National party.

All parties except Rakhine National Party signed the pledge.

Plans are currently in motion to hold another summit with ethnic leaders to discuss the NCA draft, after a meeting in Panghsan in Shan State. The Panghsang declaration stated that it is necessary to sign a nationwide ceasefire agreement to end Myanmar's civil wars. Moreover, the participants condemned the use of arms in solving political disputes.

NCCT leaders will convene early June. The meeting was delayed from April, so as not to conflict with the Panghsan Conference, which was organised by the United Wa State Army.

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