Myanmar, rebels fail to reach peace deal

Even as Myanmar's government is making last-ditch efforts for a peace pact with rebel groups, it is also grappling with floods that have killed scores of people and affected more than 330,000 in the country.
Even as Myanmar's government is making last-ditch efforts for a peace pact with rebel groups, it is also grappling with floods that have killed scores of people and affected more than 330,000 in the country.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

YANGON • Talks aimed at reaching a historic Myanmar peace agreement between the government, army and ethnic armed groups ended without resolution yesterday as negotiations stumbled on whether a deal should include all rebel groups.

With time running out to reach a ceasefire ahead of crucial Nov 8 elections in the former junta-run nation, negotiators said they were unable to seal an agreement.

"We could not conclude a deal today because both sides were unable to negotiate the issue," said Mr Pu Zing Cung of the ethnic group delegation. He added that ethnic organisations wanted 17 groups included in the agreement, but the government had baulked at including several of them.

The long-running negotiations - aimed at ending civil wars that have blighted the country for more than half a century - have snagged on whether to include several armed groups still locked in combat with the army. Earlier, lead government negotiator Aung Min conceded that inclusiveness was "very important for the peace process".

But observers say the nation's powerful military is vigorously opposed to including some of the smaller insurgent groups which it is still sporadically fighting on the front lines, including in the northern Kachin and Shan states.

The issue was the very last sticking point in months of talks and it is not yet clear whether another round of talks can be held before the polls.

The talks come as Myanmar's government is battling floods that have killed scores of people and left more than 330,000 affected across the country.

The Singapore Government has expressed concern over the loss of life and destruction caused by the floods and landslides in Myanmar over the past week.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement said that, in support of the flood relief efforts in Myanmar, the Government will donate US$100,000 (S$139,000) as seed money for the Singapore Red Cross to launch a public appeal for cash donations to the flood victims in Myanmar.

As a close friend and fellow Asean member state, Singapore stands by Myanmar during this difficult time, the statement said. Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law K. Shanmugam has also written to Union Minister for Foreign Affairs U Wunna Maung Lwin to convey his condolences, the statement added.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2015, with the headline 'Myanmar, rebels fail to reach peace deal'. Print Edition | Subscribe