The government of Myanmar and representatives from 16 major ethnic rebel groups have signed a draft cease-fire accord that aims to end decades of armed conflict.
Speaking at Tuesday’s signing in Yangon, President Thein Sein praised the framework nationwide peace deal as the first step towards holding political dialogue with the rebel groups.
Before a final deal is signed, the rebels first plan to hold a conference to finalize the terms. No date for the conference has been set.
Even still, the United Nations praised the draft of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, or NCA, as a “historic and significant achievement.”
“The signing of an NCA is a first step towards a larger dialogue for settling the political and military issues that will pave the way for an inclusive and harmonious future for Myanmar,” U.N. Special Adviser Vijay Nambiar said in a written statement. “Today’s agreement is a signal that new levels of trust, confidence and cooperation are possible between former enemies and that the seeds of change in Myanmar are beginning to sprout.”
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has seen more than 65 years of clashes between the government and rebel groups trying to secure autonomy in many border regions.
Since 2013, the military-dominated government and the rebels have held seven rounds of peace talks. The government hopes to have a final deal in place by the end of the year.