Myanmar extends its ceasefire

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Myanmar’s State Administration Council (SAC) chairman General Min Aung Hlaing is extending his ceasefire declaration against the country’s armed resistance groups until the end of this year, announced during an official visit by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The ceasefire, first announced in October last year, was due to end on February 28. But the ceasefire will be extended until the end of 2022.

The unilateral ceasefire, which NGOs including Human Rights Watch called a “joke”, came before it was revealed that Myanmar’s military had continued to bombard the country’s ethnic minorities since the February 1 military coup.

Hun Sen met with Burma’s military chief, General Min Aung Hlaing, during his visit. He called on “all parties to accept the ceasefire in the interest of the country and the people, to stop all acts of violence and to exercise utmost restraint,” according to a report of the meeting by the Phenom Pehn Post.

Hun Sen, meanwhile, has strongly supported the initiative, which aims to calm tensions and allow for a constructive dialogue between stakeholders to achieve lasting peace and national development, the statement said.

The coup general also ensured that he would facilitate any visit by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) special envoy, Prak Sokhonn of Cambodia, to whom he would even grant permission to meet with the so-called ethnic armed organizations (as the military calls the resistance groups and militias operating in the country), but always “taking into account the prevailing situation in Burma,” according to the note. 

On his return to Cambodia, the Prime Minister acknowledged, that ASEAN and its partners “still have a lot of work to do” to end the violence and ensure the delivery of aid. Hun Sen criticized that “those who oppose the ceasefire are betting on the dead and wounded of the war.

The trip of Hun Sen has been marked by international criticism. In addition, the Prime Minister is now the chair of ASEAN, and some of its member countries have roundly denounced the Burmese authorities and vetoed his inclusion in the organization’s discussions on the crisis in Burma.

Hun Sen was also criticized for making no effort to meet with imprisoned Burmese political leaders, such as activist Aung San Suu Kyi, a symbol of a crackdown that has left more than 1,000 people dead and more than 10,000 arrested, according to Burmese groups.

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