Myanmar rebels meet with government on final points of ceasefire

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Naypyitaw (dpa) – Leaders of Myanmar’s armed rebel groups met with the president Wednesday to hammer out the last points of a ceasefire, after four years of negotiations, and ahead of general elections in November.

“This may be the last meeting with the current government,” a representative of the Kachin Independence Organization told dpa by phone before the meeting in the capital Naypyitaw.

“If things are okay, we will sign the all-inclusive Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement,” Lieutenant General N’ban La Awng said.

The talks had hit an impasse over how many of the 21 ethnic groups to be included in the pact. The government wants it to cover 15 groups, excluding six smaller groups, while rebel negotiators are demanding inclusion of at least 17 groups.

President Thein Sein is hoping to seal a deal before his term ends, observers say. New elections are scheduled for November 8.

Five groups committed last month to sign the pact.

Myanmar is composed of a patchwork of ethnic groups that have had constant tensions with the Burmese-dominated nation state that gained independence from Britain in 1948.

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