The Democratic Karen Benevolent Army, a breakaway faction of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, said last week that it would work with the new National League for Democracy-led government to bring peace to Karen State.
“Currently, the new government has the highest power. The old government has transferred power to them, so we will work with them to establish peace. We will go the way of peace,” the group’s new vice chief of staff, Saw Steel, told DVB on Friday.
The group, sometimes called DKBA-5, or Brigade 5, held an emergency meeting at its Klo Htoo Ba headquarters from 19 to 22 April to officially approve General Moshe Myint as its new chief of staff following the death last month of its former leader, Saw Lah Pwe.
At the meeting, the group’s new leadership also discussed development in the area under its control, public relations, and business matters, according to DKBA Myawaddy liaison officer Saw Soe Myint.
Also on the agenda was the armed group’s push to implement reforms initiated by Saw Lah Pwe.
“The future plan is the same as the one Grandpa [Saw Lah Pwe] set before to achieve peace. The new chief of staff and vice chief of staff will follow the same policies [as Saw Lah Pwe, who] urged unity and consolidation of the army,” said Saw Soe Myint.
While the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army became a Border Guard Force ahead of elections in 2010, the DKBA-5 refused to join the scheme, which allowed armed groups to retain their weapons as long as they agreed to operate under Burmese military command. Instead, it seized control of the government-held border town of Myawaddy in protest at what it saw as an effort to coerce the public into voting in the rigged polls.
Last year, however, the DKBA-5 became one of eight ethnic armed groups that signed a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. In the wake of that decision, an off-shoot of the group led by Major Saw San Aung clashed with government troops several times late last year.