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Achievement of federal union relies on ‘united ethnic voice’, leaders warned

As the conference of armed ethnic organisation leaders at Karen National Union headquarters in Law Khee Law continued into its fourth day, delegates on Friday were warned that the achievement of a federal union rests on ethnic unity, just one day after three rebel militias threatened to quit the ethnic ceasefire negotiating body.

Vice Chairman of the Arakan Liberation Party Khine Soe Naing Aung told delegates of the importance for ethnic unity, days after three key rebel militias threatened to quit the NCCT.

”If we are going to have political dialogue, it is important that all of the ethnic groups and armed groups have one united voice. That is one united voice on the federal union. If we can’t have a united ethnic voice, we will not get a genuine federal union. I believe this is very important,” he said.

Friday’s discussions focussed on the a ceasefire ‘code of conduct’.

Concerns over the code of conduct, forming the fourth section of the draft nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) agreed by government and ethnic negotiators on 31 March, have previously been mentioned by key actors as a stumbling block in the peace process.

Deputy leader of the ethnic bloc’s Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) Kwe Htoo Win told reporters: “Today we discussed Section 4 of the [draft] nationwide ceasefire agreement. The plan to strengthen the nationwide ceasefire was reviewed, especially regarding the code of conduct.

“There was merely some misunderstanding on the wording. We also discussed the meaning of some of the terms used in the agreement,” he said.

Originally scheduled to run from 2-6 June, the law Khee La summit will now run for a further day.

When asked what message the ethnic leaders would like to give to opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi ahead of her trip to China, Kwe Htoo Win said, “What our ethnic people need is to solve the fundamental political problems though the peace process. We would like Aung San Suu Kyi and the Chinese government to understand and support the needs and demands of our ethnic peoples.”


Also during Friday’s talks, Khun Myint Tun, the chairman of Pa-O National Liberation Organization, told DVB: “The preliminary agreement between government and NCCT – that the establishment of federal union would be based on the results of political dialogue – was the main item for the leaders to discuss [on Friday].”

“In particular, whether there should in fact be clauses which say a federal union should be established according to the results of political dialogue. Some people think that is too uncertain,” he said.

During the conference, ethnic leaders have discussed amendments or additions to the draft NCA.

The draft was to get approval from the leaders of both sides and government had said they have nothing to change in the drafted agreement. So, ethnic side is submitting at the ethnic armed summit.


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