Myanmar President Thein Sein has made his first public appearance since the start of a campaign for November 8 general elections, meeting leaders of ethnic armed groups for ceasefire talks. At the opening of the talks in the capital Naypyitaw on Wednesday, Thein Sein stressed the importance of peace in the country’s “transition to democracy” through peace. “I hope today’s summit will pave the way to signing the nationwide ceasefire agreement by the end of September,” he said. Clinching the deal with the armed groups would be a political win for Thein Sein, who made it his top priority, boosting the chances of his ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party in the first general elections since the end of military rule. He said that he wants the ceasefire signed by September 29.
Al Jazeera’s Florence Looi, reporting from Myanmar, said the former military commander has been “genuinely trying” to push through a ceasefire agreement.
“It’s something his administration has been working hard on,” she said.
But a deal with all ethnic armies is unlikely, experts said, with some groups excluded from the talks, as fighting in the restive Kokang region along Myanmar’s border with China has continued unabated since February.