Friday, January 6, 2012

CNF signs cease-fire agreement


Friday, 06 January 2012 21:06 Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Chin National Front (CNF) – which fought for 23 years – signed a cease-fire agreement with a Burmese government peace team led by Railway Minister Aung Min on Friday.

After two-days of talks, the five-point agreement was signed in Hakha, the China State capital.

Chin Cheng, who facilitated the talks, told Mizzima: “The CNF military area was designated in Tiddim and Matupi but it will be renegotiated. I am satisfied and elated with the agreement.”

CNF liaison offices will be opened in Matupi, Thangtalan and Tiddim in the south, north and middle of Chin State, respectively.

The 10-member CNF delegation was led by Joint General- Secretary Dr. Sui Khar. The Union-level group was led by Railway Minister Aung Min and team members included Forestry Minister Win Tun, state level Peace and Stability Committee member and state government Border and Security Minister Colonel Zaw Min Oo, strategic command commander Lieutenant Colonel Ko Ko Gyi and five state government cabinet members.

The agreement included safe passage in each other’s territory with prior notice and joint cooperation in state development work.

The Chin State branch chairman of the National League for Democracy party, Ban Lian, told Mizzima that political issues have cause ethnic armed groups to fight the government for 60 years, and face-to-face negotiation was the best way to resolve such issues.

“Politics must be talked out in this way,” he said. “Even a world war was stopped at last by signing an agreement otherwise it could never end and fighting would continue. There are armed groups because of political issues. Political issues must be resolved at the conference table.”

The two sides first met on November 19, 2011, in Mae Sai, Thailand, for preliminary discussions.

Meanwhile, the Chinland Guardian said an elaborate dinner was planned for Friday evening where both sides will share a meal with cabinet members of the Chin State government, members of the Chin State Parliament, invited elders and dignitaries from Hakha, Thantlang and Falam towns, in addition to chief civil servants from all state-level departments.

The two-day peace talks were held in the capital amidst public euphoria which saw a historic welcome for the CNF peace delegation on Thursday in Thantlang and Hakha towns, where thousands of people clad in traditional dresses packed the streets to greet the ten-member negotiating team.

“We have been regularly ‘required’ to greet state officials during their visits to town on countless occasions but this time we came out on the street on our own account. People said, ‘We even greet Burmese officials, why not our own heroes?'," said an elderly woman in Hakha.

The CNF delegation is due to depart Hakha on Saturday and is scheduled to stay overnight in Thantlang town before heading back to the Indian border.

The CNF was formed in May 1988 to fight for the self-determination rights of ethnic people and it then formed the Chin National Army (CNA). It is based on the Indo-Burma border. At least 70 CNF soldiers died in action in the fighting between 1988 and 2012, a source close to the CNF said. After 2003, fighting ceased with government troops. The CNF is one of the organizations that opposed the 2008 Constitution. It is the fourth armed group to reach a cease-fire agreement with the government in recent negotiations.

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