Burma Reports Official Truce with Ethnic Mon Rebels

Posted February 27th, 2012 at 1:10 pm (UTC-5)
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The Burmese government says it has signed a preliminary peace deal with ethnic Mon separatists in the country's southeast — the latest in a series of pacts aimed at ending decades of ethnic conflict in the country.

The government-owned New Light of Myanmar on Monday called the agreement an “olive branch” aimed at opening political dialogue on issues including education, health care and the release of political prisoners. Moves toward a temporary truce were announced February 1.

The pact is the seventh such agreement between Burma's new, nominally-civilian government and rebels from 11 ethnic groupings, since the country's long-ruling military junta ceded power last year.

The deal comes as Western governments, led by the United States and the European Union, press Burma to end the long-running ethnic conflicts, in exchange for lifting economic sanctions imposed on the former junta.

The government says the Mon deal includes provisions for an official delegation that will negotiate the date, time and venues for substantive peace talks.

It also states that political dialogue will begin within 45 days.

The government signed similar deals with ethnic Karen and Shan leaders in January, and restarted preliminary talks with ethnic Kachin rebels, as well. It has also in recent months released hundreds of political prisoners jailed by the former junta, and promised free and fair by-elections April 1.