NAYPYITAW, Myanmar – Myanmar's government has signed a cease-fire agreement with eight ethnic rebel armies but the more powerful groups have refused to come on board.
The agreement was signed Thursday at a ceremony in Myanmar's administrative capital. The refusal of the larger groups to sign it robs President Thein Sein of what he had hoped would be the crowning achievement of his five-year term.
Still, it is seen as a first step toward ending six decades of fighting between the government, dominated by the Burmese majority, and various minority ethnic groups demanding autonomy and control over their natural resources.
Ethnic groups, representing 40 percent of the 53 million population, have found themselves victims of military abuses and discrimination in areas spanning from health and education to road construction and access to electricity.