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Burma’s vice president calls peace deals fragile

During a Union-level peacemaking committee meeting in Naypyitaw on Sunday, Vice President Sai Mauk Kham said signing cease-fire deals with ethnic groups does not create peace, and on-going negotiations are fragile and demand committment.

Vice President Sai Mauk Kham attends a Union-level peacemaking committee meeting in Naypyitaw on Sunday, August 12, 2012. Photo: President's officeHe urged the government peacemaking body to render assistance to the families of the peace groups to ease the transition into a stable livelihood, saying, “Only when they are empowered to participate in the country's social, economic and political spheres, burying the hatchets, will eternal peace be established,” according to an article in The New Light of Myanmar, a state-run newspaper.

He said that over a 50-year period, “conflicts have wasted the time and wealth of the country.”

Burma’s failure to achieve peace is one of the reasons it fell into the status of lease-developed countries, he said.

Burma formed an 11-member central committee, headed by President Thein Sein, and a 52-member working committee, led by Sai Mauk Kham, on May 3, 2012, to negotiate with armed ethnic groups.

So far, 10 out of 11 ethnic armed groups have reached preliminary peace pacts with the government at the state or central level.

However, peace talks with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) remained deadlocked so far, and armed clashes still occur periodically with Shan and Karen armed groups, in spite of cease-fire agreements, underscoring the tenuous nature of the agreements.