Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende called a cease-fire between authorities in Myanmar and eight ethnic insurgent groups a “milestone” in the country’s peace process. Norway has been active in trying to end hostilities and promote tolerance among Myanmar’s various groups.
“This is an important step towards lasting peace,” Brende said after the cease-fire agreement was signed this week. “Norway is ready to support all the parties in the way forward.”
He said the Norwegian government “hopes and expects” that the agreement will form a foundation for peace and reconciliation among the authorities and the ethnic minorities who for years have fought for more autonomy in several remote border areas. Representatives from Norway, China, India, the EU and the US were on hand to witness the signing at a televised ceremony on Thursday.
Several groups have refused to sign, though, until it includes another five to six groups. Those going along, including the Karens national union, will no longer be considered terrorist groups and more political dialog will commence.
Myanmar is holding a national election on November 8 but not in the areas of Shan and Kachin, because of ongoing conflicts. Criticism also continues over Myanmar’s treatment of muslim minorities, and at least one Member of Parliament from the Rohingya minority isn’t being allowed to run for reelection. He told newspaper Dagsavisen recently that his citizenship had allegedly been called into question and claimed minorities in Myanmar still face massive discrimination. He urged Norway and other countries to put more pressure on the Myanmar authorities to stop human rights abuses in the country still under an authoritarian government.