A conference between Burma’s ethnic armed groups and government peace-making negotiators has been postponed until February, according to a member of the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT).
The conference was set to take place in Karen State capital Hpa-an in January, but has twice been postponed. The meeting is part of an ongoing series of peace conferences geared towards securing a nationwide ceasefire between Burma’s armed forces and ethnic militias.
Leaders of ethnic armed groups are scheduled to convene – without government mediators — from 20 to 22 January at Lay Wah, the headquarters of the Karen National Union (KNU). Representatives of the NCCT told DVB that more time is needed to “discuss things amongst ourselves.”
“We requested that the government postpone the meeting,” said Kwe Htoo Win, NCCT deputy-chairman and general-secretary of the KNU. “We needed a little bit of time for this, so that we can see positive outcomes in the Hpa-an talks.”
The Hpa-an talks will proceed after the Lay Wah conference draws to a close. Kwe Htoo Win also said that the NCCT is considering inviting opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to attend the Hpa-an talks as an observer.
Last week, over 20 leaders of various ethnic armed groups met in Chiang Mai, Thailand, to come up with a framework for political dialogue, the next step for peace building after reaching a nationwide ceasefire.