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Page last updated at 08:15 GMT, Monday, 9 April 2012 09:15 UK

Will Burma's army cede power?


One of the world's longest running conflicts has been between Karen rebels and the military government in Burma but there are now hopes that it could be resolved.

As part of some fairly dramatic political reforms in the country the President Thein Sein has met representatives of the Karen and they agreed steps to turn the current ceasefire into a permanent peace deal.

The Today programme's Mike Thomson, who has just back from the country described how there are various peace deals with most of the rebel groups but there are still human rights abuses all the time.

He said that there is some concern that local autonomy going on with army that the president may give an order to stop firing but local troops may carry on regardless.

Baroness Glenys Kinnock, chair of the all-party parliamentary group for democracy in Burma, said that while there has been progress, "these are still very difficult times... and there is a still a great deal to be done".

She said that there needs to be constitutional and judicial reform as part of a huge lists of gaps before reaching democracy.

"Will the army cede power?" she asked

She noted that President Thein Sein is in favour of reform and want to open up to the rest of the world to get rid of sanctions but "the army have been humiliated in this by-election and middle ranking officers are extremely angry".

On removing sanctions to Burma, Baroness Kinnock said certain member states like Germany are in favour of serious relaxation of sanctions which she does not include the UK in that camp.

"We need to put in place benchmarks between now and the 2015 national election" but there are huge tensions in the European Union on relaxing sanctions.

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