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Myanmar Signs Ceasefire with Eight Armed Ethnic Groups
Oct 22, 2015

Myanmar's government and eight armed ethnic groups signed a ceasefire agreement, the culmination of more than two years of negotiations aimed at bringing an end to the majority of the country's long-running conflicts. But the deal fell short of its nationwide impact, with seven of the 15 armed groups invited declining to sign due to disagreements over who the process should include and ongoing distrust of Myanmar's semi-civilian government and its still-powerful military.

  • The most active of rebel groups have not signed the agreement, which comes after two years of negotiations. 

  • Myanmar has been engaged in armed conflict with various ethnic and other groups seeking greater autonomy since independence from the British in 1948.

  • The violence has left tens of thousands dead over the years, displaced hundreds of thousands more and has been used by the military to justify its long hold on political power. 

  • Resolving the conflicts is seen as central to Myanmar's attempts to reform after decades of military rule. 

  • Ethnic groups, representing 40 percent of the country's 52 million people, have found themselves victims of military abuses and discrimination in areas spanning from health and education to road construction and access to electricity.

  • The agreement called the National Ceasefire Agreement, is seen as a first step towards ending six decades of fighting between the government, dominated by the Burmese majority, and various minority ethnic groups demanding autonomy and control over their natural resources.


Seven of the armed groups which have been involved in the talks did not sign the final deal. Among them is the largest, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), which has some 25 thousand members operating on the border with China, and has largely remained on the sidelines of the talks. Also not signing was the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), whose Independence Army (KIA) controls large areas of north-eastern Kachin state and has regularly clashed with the Burmese army since a ceasefire collapsed in 2011.


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