Myanmar opposition leader calls for ceasefire with rebel groups
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has called for an immediate ceasefire between the government and ethnic minority groups which have been fighting the state for decades, dpa reported.
In a letter sent late Thursday to President Then Sein and five ethnic minority groups, Suu Kyi called on for negotiations to find peaceful solutions to the rebels' ongoing struggles.
The groups were the Kachin Independence Organization, the Karan National Union, the New Mon State Party and the Shan State Party.
"With the sole purpose of promoting the well-being of all nationalities in the land I call for immediate ceasefires and the peaceful resolution of the conflicts," Suu Kyi wrote in the two-page letter to the president and the ethnic groups.
"On my part I am prepared, and pledge, to do everything in my power towards the cessation of armed conflicts and building peace in the Union," she added.
In recent months there have been reports of government attacks on Kachin and Karen strongholds, leading to unknown casualties on both sides.
Ceasefire agreements previously signed with some of the rebels have recently been broken.
Myanmar, a former British colony that attained independence in 1948, has been under military rule since 1962.
The military, which continues to control the government through the Union Solidarity and Development Party that won the November 7 election, has said a strong hand is needed to deal with the numerous insurgencies that threaten the integrity of the state.
The Karen have been fighting for autonomy since 1949.
"Only through political negotiations can genuine national unity be established," Suu Kyi said in her letter. "In the absence of genuine peace and reconciliation the potential spread of civil war always lurks beneath."
The call for a ceasefire follows on the heels of her first meeting earlier this week with a government representative since she was freed on November 13 from seven years of house detention.
On Monday, Suu Kyi met with government liaison officer Aung Kyi, who is also Labour Minister in the newly elected government which assumed office in April.
Western democracies have called on the Myanmar government to open a dialogue with Suu Kyi, her National League for Democracy opposition party, ethnic minority groups and other activists.
The November 7 polls, which excluded Suu Kyi and the NLD, were criticized in the West for being neither free nor fair.