Myanmar: UN chief welcomes ‘milestone’ signing of ceasefire agreement

Soldiers from the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, an ethnic armed group, walk near Pahlaing village in Myanmar’s Shan State in September 2015. Photo: Htoo Tay Zar/IRIN

15 October 2015 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed today the signing of a ceasefire agreement in Myanmar as “a milestone” and expressed his hope that the new government formed after next month’s elections will keep moving forward along the present path of negotiations.

“The United Nations recognizes that the consolidation of a nationwide cease-fire and the commencement of a comprehensive political dialogue will open the way to a new path of sustainable peace after decades of civil war that have cost numerous lives, uprooted hundreds of thousands from their homes and robbed successive generations of their dignity, tranquility and normalcy,” Mr. Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson after the signing in Nay Pyi Taw by the Government, the Myanmar defense forces and several ethnic armed groups.

He went on to say that the “public commitment made by the Government to work for a federal union based on democracy and equality is a milestone” and that the negotiation process that resulted in this agreement has built greater confidence among all stakeholders.

“It needs to be followed up and made more inclusive during the coming months,” he said.

The signing today, said Mr. Ban, “marks an important step in advancing national reconciliation and consolidating the reform process in the country.”

He congratulated President Thein Sein for his leadership and noted that “although some important groups have not yet decided to take this step, today’s signing reflects a recognition by leaders from the Government, as well as from the Ethnic Armed Organizations, of the people of Myanmar's genuine aspiration to end long years of conflict and live together in peace.”

The UN chief expressed his hope that the new government formed after the 8 November elections will continue to move forward along the present path of negotiations, building on these understandings.

“The United Nations remains prepared to contribute to the next stage of the peace process in accordance with the unified expectations of all stakeholders,” he said.

And he went on to urge all stakeholders, signatories and non-signatories, to work together for a peaceful future in a constructive and forward-looking spirit, saying “this will require cooperation, determination and a commitment to reinforce trust and overcome the grievances of the past.”

He underscored that “only an inclusive and structured political dialogue as well as non-recourse to military action in all areas will help build the basis for sustainable peace on the ground.”

And finally, the UN Secretary-General expressed his hope that next month’s elections will be conducted in “a credible and transparent manner and strengthen the foundations of a genuine multi-ethnic democracy in the country.”

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