Saturday, April 6, 2013

Myanmar's fragile peace - 101 East - Al Jazeera English

Myanmar's fragile peace - 101 East - Al Jazeera English

Myanmar's fragile peace

101 East looks at whether the fragile peace between Myanmar's government and ethnic groups will last.

Last Modified: 05 Apr 2013 13:43


Myanmar, a diverse country of over 55 million people has entered a new era of unprecedented democratic reform after decades of military rule.

The success of the country’s transition hinges on peace negotiations with multiple armed ethnic groups.
These minorities represent more than one-third of the population in the resource-rich borderlands of the country. In the past year, ceasefire agreements have been signed with 13 rebel armies, but one conflict in Kachin state remains the key stumbling block.

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Chief peace negotiator U Aung Min has given 101 East exclusive access to the latest round of negotiations with the Kachin, as he navigates the tricky path to peace.

Balancing the interests of armed rebels, the Myanmar army and the country’s powerful neighbour, China, is no easy task. Many speculate that the reason for the ongoing fighting lies in control of the resources in Kachin state.

Aung Min has drafted an unlikely band of former exiles and rebel fighters onto his team.
They work tirelessly, often unpaid, to help Myanmar at this critical moment in its history. Min Zaw Oo was a student fighter who battled the military in the jungle and is now one of Aung Min’s closes advisors at the Myanmar Peace Center.

International help has been forthcoming, too. Charles Petrie, former head of the UN in Myanmar, was expelled by the former regime and is now back to help ensure the ceasefires hold. Working with the Norwegian-funded Myanmar Peace Support Initiative, his team supports people in some of the country’s most remote locations. Many are only just being coaxed out of hiding after decades on the run.

Mistrust runs deep and key stumbling blocks in the peace process remain. Ethnic leaders want to begin talks on power sharing and running their own affairs. But it is unclear if support exists for constitutional change from the 25 percent military block in Myanmar’s parliament. Ethnic armies, meanwhile, are refusing to give up their guns.

101 East  takes a rare look into Myanmar's forgotten corners, and follows the country's leaders as they navigate a fragile path to peace.


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