Karenni rebels reach out to locals over peace-talks

Karenni rebels reach out to locals over peace-talks

The Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) is travelling to Karenni state to talk with locals about the peace-process ahead of union-level talks with the government.

Three delegations are travelling to Loikaw, Demoso and Hpruso townships today to gather public feedback on the initial ceasefire agreement brokered with the government on 7 March in the Karenni capital Loikaw.

The preliminary agreement specified that both sides would stop fighting, open liaison offices in the state’s seven townships and hold union-level talks in the future.

“We need to cordially hear the public’s feedback, their opinions and wishes as we look to union-level talks,” explained Aung San Myint, Secretary-2 of the KNPP.

“In the previous round of talks with the government, we proposed 20 things [to discuss at the next meeting] and we want to explain these to the people, as well as our political goals and plans.”

The 20-point list of issues includes removing the group’s name from the unlawful association list within 15 days of reaching an official ceasefire, and accommodating nationwide, all-inclusive political talks within six months.

“We will take the proposal back with us and prepare to discuss the issue during the coming week,” Minister of Energy and delegate member Than Htay said after the last round of talks.

The Unlawful Association Act 1908 criminalises a number of exiled organisations that are seen to interfere with “law and order” inside Burma, including the Karen National Union (KNU) and KNPP. Last week after meeting with KNU leaders, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi called for the law to be repealed.

The KNPP is the political wing of the Karenni Army (KA), which has fought a civil war against the Burmese army since 1948. A precarious ceasefire was negotiated in 1995 but crumbled only three months later.

The government’s current peace delegation is being led by Railway Minister Aung Min, who has struck ceasefire deals with several other ethnic groups in recent months, including the KNU and the New Mon State Party.

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