The Karen National Union (KNU) and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) have agreed to unite during political talks with the government.
“Although we may continue to have different methods in dealing with things, the [DKBA] said that they wouldn’t reject the leadership and advice from their mother organization, the KNU, regarding their political aims,” said General Secretary of the KNU Major Saw Hla Ngwe.
The groups were meeting with each other prior to political talks with the government. The agreement was reached during a meeting at the DKBA’s headquarters on 8 March. Ten KNU military officials and seven brigade commanders from its armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army, went to the DKBA’s headquarters for the meeting.
The DKBA broke away from the KNU in 1994 and signed a ceasefire with the military junta. The talks mark the first official meeting between the two groups in a decade. The DKBA’s spokesperson Major Saw Lon Lon said the meeting aimed to encourage understanding between the groups in an effort to consolidate a united position before dealing with government negotiators.
“This is an official meeting between the DKBA and the KNU and I think that this is a good turning point [that will provide] the Karen people with a bright future,” said Saw Lon Lon.
The DKBA, after rejecting the junta’s demands to form Border Guard Force units, resumed their armed struggle against the government in 2010 before agreeing to a ceasefire deal in December last year. The KNU also signed an initial ceasefire pact with the government.
The KNU is scheduled to hold political talks with the government within the first week of April.