Col Khun Okkar, Pa-O National Liberation Organization representative and chair of the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team, told Radio Free Asia in an interview on January 26 that he expects real progress will be made in negotiations during the meeting with the government’s Union Peace Working Committee next month, which could usher in a peace deal in March.
He said he had received an invitation to attend a February 12 Union Day meeting from President U Thein Sein and that all ethnic leaders were likely to attend.
“This is a top level meeting with decision-capable leaders and if there is something concrete at the top level, it’s much easier to work at the lower levels, so the signing could come faster,” the NCCT chairman told RFA.“The signing might come in March, that would be the earliest, but we hope to get a promise … to build a federal union.”
He said obstacles remained in ethnic groups failing to meet amongst themselves, as well as ongoing military clashes between the Myanmar government forces and ethnic armed groups.
On January 5, President U Thein Sein called on the country’s ethnic, military, and political groups to sign the long-debated nationwide ceasefire deal on February 12 in order for the country to then move forward with political dialogue.