Speaking at the opening ceremony for today’s ceasefire signing, Burma’s President Thein Sein said, “The NCA [national ceasefire agreement] is a historic gift from us to the generations of the future.
“This is our heritage.”
He was succeeded on the stage by Karen National Union leader Mutu Say Poe, before all signatories took turns at signing the accord at 9:41 am.
Nearly a thousand government ministers, ethnic leaders, foreign diplomats, dignitaries and witnesses attended the event at the Myanmar International Convention Centre II in Naypyidaw on Thursday morning, and the sense of history was in the air as the government looks to officially call a truce to a civil conflict that has lasted 67 years – arguably the longest running civil war in the world.
Representatives from the United Nations, European Union, India, China, Japan and Thailand are acting as witnesses as eight rebel groups sign a ceasefire accord with the government, led by Thein Sein and Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing.
But the truce is overshadowed by controversy as a majority of ethnic groups have declined to sign. In addition, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has snubbed the event. Central Committee member Win Htein represented the National League for Democracy instead.