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Myanmar Army: ethnic groups delay peace talks

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Naypyidaw (AFP) – Myanmar military officials have said stalled peace talks were “drowning” the country, blaming ethnic armed groups for the fighting that continues to rage in the country’s northern borderlands.

Civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has said that making peace is a top priority for her administration, but she shares power with the military, which has fought ethnic insurgencies for decades.

At the start of a third round of Suu Kyi-led peace talks in the capital Naypyidaw yesterday, Myanmar’s commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing suggested ethnic groups were responsible for the stalled peace process that he said was “drowning our country”.

“I would like to urge you to wipe out the civil armed conflicts that hinder the development of the country,” he said.

Defence Minister Sein Win told AFP that ethnic militias were not doing enough to staunch ongoing conflict, saying they “need to control their people.”

“If their people have no discipline, problems can happen,” he said.

The six-day peace talks are an attempt by Ms Suu Kyi, who came to power in 2016 after landslide elections, to bring more ethnic groups into a ceasefire accord.

Ten groups are now signed up but at least seven, including some of the largest and most influential, are holding out, with Ms Suu Kyi saying Wednesday they were “always welcome” to join.

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