Kachin armed group reopens liaison office in Myitkyina

Kachin armed group reopens liaison office in Myitkyina

The Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) reopened their liaison office in Myitkyina on Tuesday in accordance with the seven-point agreement the armed group signed with government negotiators during peace talks in May.

The liaison office, officially titled the Technical Advisory Team Office, was ceremonially opened in Myitkyina’s Sitapu ward, where the KIO’s former office was located before shutting down in 2011 when the group’s 17-year ceasefire with Naypyidaw collapsed.

Senior government officials, including President’s Office minister Aung Min, Kachin state’s chief minister and KIO leaders attended the opening ceremony.

“Reopening the liaison office will allow the public to take part in the peace process, which would provide a great deal of assistance to the trust-building between the KIO and the government,” said Kachin State Peace Creation mediator Seng Awng, adding that Aung Min stressed the importance of putting an end to fighting between the two sides.

“We can say another door has been opened for the peace process.”

The KIO’s Technical Advisory Team is made up of 14 members including officials from the group’s armed wing the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

“We have yet to hold a discussion on future plans and adopt policies. Mainly our work will based on the agreements reached during the talks in [May],” said Dau Hka, a spokesperson from the liaison office.

In late May, the KIO and the government’s peace making work committee reached a seven-point agreement aimed at facilitating a future political dialogue, establishing monitoring offices and creating rehabilitation programmes for people displaced across the restive state.

While the two sides also agreed to reduce fighting during their May meeting, the pledge has failed to prevent sporadic skirmishes from erupting in Burma’s far north.

According to a report published by the Kachin News Group on Monday, government troops engaged in a brief skirmish with KIA soldiers over the weekend in northern Shan state near the controversial gas and oil pipeline stretching from Burma’s Arakan coast to China’s Yunnan province.

The KIO are the only major armed group that has yet to sign a new ceasefire deal with Burma’s quasi-civilian government. The armed group has stated on several occasions that they would refuse to sign another truce with Naypyidaw until the country’s ethnic minorities were guaranteed greater political autonomy.

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