The Myanmar government and armed ethnic minority groups resumed critical talks on Wednesday to reach a nationwide ceasefire agreement that would end six decades of fighting before an upcoming general election that threatens to upend hard-won progress toward a deal.
More than a dozen ethnic minority groups and government representatives have been in talks for more than 18 months and a key negotiator warned that failure to reach an accord could trigger a fresh round of fighting if the military takes action. The general election, which would usher in a new president, takes place in November.
“If negotiations fail and the military believe that the nationwide ceasefire agreement cannot be signed under the present government, they will have no choice but to launch military operations,” said Hla Maung Shwe, of the Myanmar Peace Center.
The center, funded by the European Union, was set up in 2012 to help with ceasefire negotiations and the ethnic peace process.
The prospect of reaching a deal as soon as possible, however, was uncertain.
Key details were still up in the air Wednesday, including which ethnic groups will participate.
Negotiations hit a snag in June when minorities attending a summit asked the government to allow three other groups still at odds with the government to participate in the ceasefire signing.