Political nudging as Kachin talks end

Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and government negotatiors have agreed to continue with discussions on easing territorial disputes in the conflict-torn northern state following three days of talks on Chinese soil.

The KIO’s spokesperson, La Nan, told DVB that the two sides will discuss the issue of military patrols in areas seen as possible flashpoints close to Kachin territory. These discussions will begin soon in a bid to lessen the chances of fighting until a ceasefire is signed, although have continued to erupt.

Despite the lengthy talks in the Chinese border town of Ruili, La Nan was quick to emphasise that no pact had been agreed upon, but that he was confident that a deal will be inked in the future. Both sides have said they are happy with the developing negotiations.

Still a bone of contention however is the presence of Burmese troops close to Kachin territory. La Nan lamented the fact that no military leaders were included in the parliamentary team dispatched to Ruili, and said that the two sides had “agreed to thoroughly discuss this [troop presence] during the next meeting,” for which a date has not yet been set.

Primarily two camps have handled negotiations concerning ceasefires with the country’s armed ethnic groups. Aung Thaung, who has spearheaded efforts with the Kachin, is said to be close to former Burmese junta chief Than Shwe and is considered a hardliner by many.

In the other camp is Railway Minister Aung Min, who has met with both the Karen and the Shan, and is believed to be a comparative moderate with stronger ties to Burma’s current leadership.

The KIO and the government brokered a ceasefire agreement in 1994, but the truce broke down in June 2011 when government forces attacked KIO troops. The Burmese government cited the group’s failure to transform into Border Guard Force units and surrender their arms as reasons for the action.

The fighting has displaced more than 55,000 civilians and is believed to be ongoing despite efforts to broker peace.

 

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