Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar (BBN)-The government of Myanmar, also known as Burma, has signed a ceasefire deal with eight armed ethnic groups.
The signing ceremony in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, was the culmination of two years of peace talks, reports BBC.
But the most active rebel groups have stayed out of the deal – seven of the 15 groups involved in negotiations.
Myanmar has been engaged in armed conflict with various ethnic rebel groups seeking greater autonomy since independence from the British in 1948.
The BBC’s Jonah Fisher in Nay Pyi Taw says those signing on Thursday had already agreed bilateral ceasefires, so the deal it is not halting any active conflicts.
But the government hopes it will be the first step on a path to a lasting political settlement.
Among the groups which have not signed are the largest armed group, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), and the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), whose Kachin Independence Army (KIA) controls large areas of north-eastern Kachin state and regularly clashes with the Burmese army.
Negotiators have told BBC correspondents that the seven groups which have not signed are not far behind, and have agreed a draft deal.
Earlier this week, all of the groups signing were removed from the government’s list of “unlawful associations”.
The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Peace Council, the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), the Chin National Front (CNF), the Pa-O National Liberation Organisation (PNLO), and the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) were removed from the list on Tuesday.
They joined three other armed groups removed on Monday: the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF), the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), and the Karen National Union (KNU) – Myanmar’s oldest armed group, which has been fighting for nearly seven decades.