Myanmar’s central government and leaders of its 16 ethnic rebel armies have agreed to visit India and study the Mizo accord as a step towards peace after spending more than six decades fighting each other, said former Mizo rebel leader and two-time Mizoram CM Zoramthanga, who is an emissary between the two groups.
The Mizo accord was signed between the Rajiv Gandhi government and the then rebel Mizo National Front (of which Zoramthanga was a prominent leader and which he now heads) in 1986 to end two decades of violent conflict. It is often hailed as one of the most successful peace agreements between a government and an armed ethnic insurgency.
Zoramthanga was invited by Naypyidaw and the United Nationalities Federation Council (UNFC), a grouping of Myanmar’s ethnic rebel armies, to help broker lasting peace between the two sides after years of unsuccessful negotiations and often failed ceasefires. The former rebel leader was sometimes called “Vajpayee’s right-hand man in the Northeast” during the previous NDA government for his role in trying to broker peace between New Delhi and various ethnic insurgency in north-eastern India.
With two colleagues in tow, the MNF president had on January 12 flown to Myanmar and then to Thailand to talk to leaders of both the sides and returned to India January 22, reaching Aizawl Saturday after meeting with officials in New Delhi. He said he is an interlocutor with the PMO’s knowledge but not under official sanction. “I found that both sides really wanted to have peace but were unable to find a way towards it,” Zoramthanga said.
He further said he met with delegations headed by Myanmar Minister Major-General (retd) Aung Min, who as head of the Myanmar Peace Centre is in-charge of peace talks, at Naypyidaw, and spoke for several hours with UNFC chairman N’ban La, who is also vice-president of the Kachin Independence Organisation, the political wing of one of the country’s most powerful ethnic armies, in Thailand.