Ethnic armed groups discuss ceasefire in Karen state

A conference for discussing nationwide ceasefire is being held in eastern Burma’s Karen state from 20 to 22 January.

Leading officials from 18 ethnic armed groups met at the Karen National Union’s Law Khee La headquarters. The meeting follows up on a similar event in the Kachin Independence Organisation’s Laiza headquarters in northern Burma late last year.

“I would like to urge all to work on a mutual agreement”, said Mutu Say Poe, chairman of the Karen National Union, in his opening speech.

“If Min Aung Hlaing [Burmese military Commander in Chief] says no fire, then we won’t fire”, said General Gunhtang Gam Shwang, chief of staff of the Kachin Independence Army, with a smile. “We are still engaged in fights. But this is part of war. The KIA stands under the KIO and we will not engage in a fight without knowledge by our political-wing.”

Mahn Nyein Maung from the KNU emphasised the importance of unity.

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“First of all, I would like to say this meeting has been longed for by all ethnic groups and people of Burma, as it allows ethnic groups in Burma to come together and unite as opportunity arises in the country.”

Mahn Nyein Maung also said the KNU wishes to see an agreement among the ethnic armed groups, based on their opinions on a nationwide ceasefire.

“The main objective of the conference is to work on a mutual agreement between the ethnic armed groups, regarding framework for the nationwide ceasefire, based on individual opinions by each group. We will be discussing it with the government during talks in Hpa-an, and from there we expect to implement the nationwide ceasefire agreement.”

The meeting in Hpa-an is planned to take place in February.

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