Kachin rebels to stop fighting if govt ceases hostilities

Kachin rebels to stop fighting if govt ceases hostilities

The Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) stated today that they would be willing to refrain from engaging in ‘military activities’ if the Burmese army agrees to end their offensive against their forces.

The KIO – the political wing of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) – in their seven-point statement released today insisted on engaging in a political dialogue with the government.

The armed group also asked for assistance from organisations and governments capable of assisting in “building genuine peace”.

“The problems won’t be solved just by holding talks between the KIO and the government alone, based on our past experience. This is why we have been asking for either international governments or credible organisations to join the talks as mediators,” said KIO spokesperson Lan Nan during a phone interview with DVB.

The spokesperson also refuted reports published earlier this week stating that the KIO had agreed to meet government negotiators in the United Wa State Army’s (UWSA) territory in February.

“Now the UWSA wishes to help bring a solution by taking a role as a /the role of a  mediator and we have nothing to argue about that,” said Lan Nan. “But currently, there is no plan yet to hold meetings in the UWSA’s Panghsang stronghold.”

Deputy Information Minister Ye Htut said the government was interested in addressing the final three points on the KIO statement, which included engaging in a political dialogue and refraining from using military force in the current conflict zones in northern Kachin state.

“These points reflect endeavours as mentioned in statements in the past and are being carried out by the government and the Tatmadaw and so we welcome the KIO making the same voice,” said Ye Htut on his Facebook page.

After the Burmese army toppled the KIA’s final hill post on the outskirts of the rebel stronghold Laiza last weekend, international and domestic observers have uneasily watched to see if the military would attempt to storm the town.

According to a report in the Shan Herald, the KIO headquarters have already been moved to an undisclosed area.

The KIA and government troops have been engaged in bitter fighting since a 17-year ceasefire collapsed in June 2011. The conflict has displaced close to 100,000 people in a war that helped taint the government’s reformist credentials.

– Ko Htwe contributed reporting 

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