KNU suspends membership of ethnic alliance

After walking out on ethnic talks on Sunday, the Karen National Union (KNU) has suspended its membership with the United Nationalities Federal Council.

In a statement published on Sunday night, the KNU said they would not be sending a representative to the next summit.

KNU leaders have long held high profile positions within the coalition of ethnic armed organisations, which invited Burmese political parties and civil society groups to discuss Burma’s possible future as a federal state.

Yet the Karen National Union abandoned the talks on Sunday, one day after the UNFC stated that all ethnic groups would work together to see federalism come to pass.

KNU commander-in-chief Mutu Say Poe, who lead the dissenting politicians as they left the talks on Sunday, signed his name on a letter to the UNFC that evening. The letter stated that “No KNU representative will be sent for UNFC for coming term,” and that “the KNU later will decide in KNU central committee whether KNU will join UNFC or not.”

The general secretary of Burma’s oldest armed resistance group explained DVB that the UNFC was stepping on their toes.

“This [UNFC] organisation is costing us our autonomy.”

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“It is a top-down structure where we are expected to hand over our fate to the leadership.We cannot accept that.”

“We must continue to represent the Karen people, and the UNFC is not always considering their best interests.”

The UNFC conference follows talks in August between its ethnic partners, the National Ceasefire Coordination Team, and government peace negotiators in Rangoon.

On that occasion, the government said it agreed – in principle – to the concept of Burmese federalism.

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