Brig-Gen Timothy Laklem of the Karen National Union Peace Council (KPC), an offshoot of the Karen National Union (KNU), has said that peace with Naypyidaw will only be possible once poverty has been reduced in Karen State.
“Ethnic leaders are much more likely to sign the [nationwide ceasefire] agreement if there is a guarantee for people’s development,” Timothy Laklem said at a press conference in Rangoon on Thursday.
“In Karen State, we have seen a civil war for over 60 years, and peace and development has been what the Karen people have longed for most, but we consider the nationwide ceasefire and political dialogue to be long term issues, and not in line with our current aims and objectives.”
The statement comes despite a proposed meeting between a KPC delegation led by chairman Saw Htay Maung and the government’s chief peace negotiator Aung Min.
Also at the press conference, Brig-Gen Laklem pledged to work with the government to expose and crackdown on various groups misusing the name of the KPC for profit in the Thailand-Burma border region.
“We are currently conducting an investigation to verify who is who. There are imposters out there who never fought a battle during the armed struggle but mysteriously became officials within the ranks overnight. These kind of issues will be reported to other organisations as well as the government.”
The KPC, formerly the 7th Brigade of the Karen National Union’s armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army, broke away from the group in 2007. The KPC reached a statewide ceasefire agreement with the government in February 2012.