Promises of political dialogue: changes in Myanmar's ceasefire process
Kwak, Simon Y.
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Myanmar's central government has wrestled with ethnically linked violence and separatism since its independence in 1948. Bilateral ceasefire efforts in the late 1980s and early 1990s achieved partial success, as many ethnic minority groups agreed to the ceasefires. The Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) process from 2011-2015 aimed to complete the task. This thesis explores why some groups signed the NCA and some refused. The comparative analysis of the two ceasefire processes, focusing on the Kachin and Karen minority groups, shows that the marked political shift in 2011 with President Thein Sein's administration affected ethnic minority groups' decisions of whether to sign the accord. Due to the built-up mistrust of the military government from broken ceasefire promises of economic development and political dialogue, along with a renewal of conflict, ethnic groups that had participated in the earlier ceasefire process tended to abstain from the NCA. Conversely, as the non-bilateral ceasefire groups had not amassed any additional resentment toward the government, they bought into the innovative NCA process, which promised future political dialogue toward a federal union. For the ceasefire negotiation process to succeed, Myanmar's government will need to cease the violence and obtain the trust of the remaining non-ceasefire groups to persuade them to sign the NCA.
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