Representatives of Myanmar's government and ethnic armed groups shake hands after an earlier discussion on a ceasefire agreement. Yangon, Myanmar, July 22, 2015. (U Aung/Xinhua/Getty Images)

Representatives of Myanmar's government and ethnic armed groups shake hands after an earlier discussion on a ceasefire agreement. Yangon, Myanmar, July 22, 2015. (U Aung/Xinhua/Getty Images)

Representatives of 17 of Myanmar’s ethnic armed groups met in Thailand in late August in an attempt to find a collective approach to signing a ceasefire with the government in Naypyidaw. While the goal of concluding a deal ahead of the country’s November 8 general election remains in sight, the commitment to no ethnic group being left out of the process continues to be a stumbling block.

Much-needed political dialogue is set to begin within 90 days of signing the agreement and many meetings have been held among the groups themselves and/or with the government since 2013—a draft ceasefire deal was agreed in April this year. Throughout the process, negotiators have made several compromises to reach this stage, where only one major issue remains.

That issue is that the government does not want to sign the ceasefire agreement with six groups, including three armed groups that had recent skirmishes with the Myanmar army—the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, the ethnic Kokang’s Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, and the Arakan Army.

The government is also unwilling to include the Wa National Organization, the Lahu Democratic Union, and the Arakan National Council, either because they have insignificant or no armed wings. The government has insisted that only groups it has already established a bilateral ceasefire with can sign the nationwide agreement. Read more