The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
The Secretary-General welcomes the signing today in Nay Pyi Taw of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement by the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the Myanmar Defence Forces and several Ethnic Armed Organizations. This marks an important step in advancing national reconciliation and consolidating the reform process in the country. The Secretary-General felicitates President Thein Sein for his leadership and notes 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 United Nations recognizes that the consolidation of a nationwide ceasefire 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, tranquillity and normalcy, not least by preventing their access to proper levels of health care, education and livelihoods. The public commitment made by the Government to work for a federal union based on democracy and equality is a milestone. 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.
The Secretary-General urges all stakeholders, signatories and non-signatories, to work together for a peaceful future in a constructive and forward-looking spirit. This will require cooperation, determination and a commitment to reinforce trust and overcome the grievances of the past. He underscores 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.
As a third party observer to the negotiations, the United Nations has witnessed the progress of the talks and commends the patience and perseverance shown by all sides. The Secretary-General expresses 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.
The Secretary-General also hopes that the coming general elections in Myanmar will be conducted in a credible and transparent manner and strengthen the foundations of a genuine multi-ethnic democracy in the country. He strongly encourages the governmental authorities, the election commission, as well as the candidates, political parties, civil society, media and organized religious groups to contribute constructively to an open and peaceful electoral process. He calls on them to avoid any kind of pressure, intimidation, dissemination of hatred or violence against individuals or organizations based on their ethnic identity, religious persuasion or political views.