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Suu Kyi takes part in talks with rebels

January 12, 2016

Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has spoken in support of an ceasefire between all rebel groups and the government. The leader is participating in talks weeks before her government assumes power.

Image: Reuters/S. Zeya Tun

The Naypitaw summit, attended by Myanmar's top bosses and rebel representatives, aimed to drive forward the National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) signed between the ethnic guerilla armies and President Thein Sein's government.

However, many rebel groups who failed to sign the pact in October last year were absent from Tuesday's meeting.

"We need to work for all the ethnic armed groups to participate in the NCA… It is important not to have conflicts between the ethnic armed groups which have signed the NCA and the groups which are still not involved in the agreement," Suu Kyi said, adding that people's "dreams" could be achieved sooner if all groups cooperated with each other.

Ethnic communities in Myanmar have been embroiled in conflict for several decades, with several wanting more autonomy from the central government.

Rebel groups hope that Suu Kyi's government, which will take over in the next few weeks, will be able to bridge its differences with the military and bring about improvements in the NCA.

"We have high expectations for Aung San Suu Kyi and her government to negotiate with the army chief - without the military's involvement it will be impossible to end the fighting across the country," Saw Thamein Tun of the Karen National Union, told reporters.

Suu Kyi, who's National League for Democracy won last November's election, was initially against the deal - the brainchild of President Thein Sein, but its failure to be inclusive in its present form has cast its effectiveness into doubt.

Groups including the Kachin Independence army, currently in conflict with the army in northern Myanmar, the United Wa State army along the Chinese border and the Ta'and Liberation Army are among the ones against the ceasefire deal.

Karte Vielvölkerstaat Myanmar Englisch

mg/rc (AP, Reuters)