The Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) has released a statement, clarifying that its representatives will attend the Union Peace Conference set to kick off tomorrow in Naypyidaw, but only as observers.
In an open letter to the Kachin public, the KIO said its 24-member delegation led by Deputy-Chairman Gen. Gun Maw and Chief Liaison Officer Sumlut Gam is set to attend the opening ceremony of the so-called “21st Century Panglong Conference” on 31 August, but has no agenda to join in discussions.
“We have no agenda to make a presentation or discuss anything at the conference,” said KIO spokesperson Naw Bo.
“The KIO is a non-signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement [NCA], and the [Panglong] Organising Committee decided the NCA non-signatory groups are only invited to attend the conference but are not actually allowed to participate in the talks or present their agendas.”
The Kachin group’s armed wing has reported a series of engagements with the Burmese army throughout August in and around the jade-rich township of Hpakant and the northern Shan State town of Kutkai. It accused government forces of provoking the clashes.
Naw Bo said the KIO was “baffled” by the Burmese army’s aggression at a time when the government, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, was looking to host peace talks.
The KIO spokesman added that the Burmese army’s Northeast Regional Commander and the Kachin State police chief had called a meeting with pastors and church leaders in state capital Myitkyina last week, when the pair urged them to convince the KIO leadership into signing the NCA.