KNU Bridges Internal Rift

Gen. Mutu Say Poe addresses representatives at an emergency KNU meeting in Brigade 7 on Oct. 25-26. (PHOTO: Pyi Taw Myit / THE IRRAWADDY)

Gen. Mutu Say Poe addresses representatives at an emergency KNU meeting in Brigade 7 on Oct. 25-26. (PHOTO: Pyi Taw Myit / THE IRRAWADDY)

Following a two-day emergency meeting, the Karen National Union (KNU) has bridged a rift in its ranks by offering two dismissed leaders a return to their original positions, according to sources within the Karen rebel group.

The Oct. 25-26 meeting in Lay Wah in eastern Karen State was attended by 47 of the KNU’s top leaders who collectively agreed to reappoint military chief Gen. Mutu Say Poe and the head of the KNU’s social welfare department, Roger Khin. No one has yet been placed in the position of a third dismissed member, David Htaw, the former head of the justice department who passed away recently.

The KNU dismissed the three leaders on Oct. 2 for violating the organization’s protocol—opening a liaison office in Karen capital Pa-an without informing other KNU central committee members.

Maj Hla Ngwe, the joint secretary 1 of the KNU, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that the two dismissed leaders will be reinstated to the same positions which they were appointed at the KNU’s 14th congress four years ago.

“If the KNU leadership kept debating who is right and who is wrong, the outcome would be a split in the organization,” said Hla Ngwe. “The Karen people do not want the KNU to be divided, and so, for the sake of unity, the KNU leaders have decided to forgive each other and move forward in their respective positions until the upcoming 15th congress.”

The Karen rebels are scheduled to elect a new leadership at an upcoming congress, which is expected to take place in late November or early December. The central committee will decide on a date at its next meeting in early November.

Mahn Nyein Maung, a spokesperson for the KNU, confirmed to The Irrawaddy that the KNU leaders have resolved their differences and are now united.

However, other sources close to the KNU said that the leadership meeting failed to produce a concrete decision over the split. They said that the rift was still apparent but was being smoothed over as all parties were aware how damaging the instability could be to the organization’s reputation.

The KNU released an official statement on Oct. 27 in the wake of the emergency meeting, saying that after resolving “the problem of weaknesses” that had arisen within the KNU, all participants of the meeting agreed to march on in accordance with the basic principles and polices of the KNU.

The KNU is one of the major ethnic armed groups in Burma and has fought a civil war for autonomy for more than 60 years. It signed a ceasefire agreement with a government peace delegation led by Aung Min in Karen State capital Pa-an on Jan. 12.

3 Responses to KNU Bridges Internal Rift

  1.  I want to ask just one question to our brothers from KNU.
    How many years do you want to take for sorting out leadership problem within KNU?
    KNU leaders never try to liberate Karin State in the past. In 70s, only KNU Army has modern weaponry and money also they have got help from Thai Government as well. I have passed many times KNU territory in my days as Gem merchant in late 70s. Most of KNU officers are living freely in good house in Mae Tao when their soldiers are eating raw shrimp paste or just salt with rice in jungle.
    Now KNU military position and financial situation is weaker than before but KNU leaders don’t change their attitude much. Only Karin peoples will be continue suffering from leadership problem even if the whole Burma was freedom and practice democracy. 
    To KNU leaders, It’s time to grow up and do something good for Karin peoples’ future.
    Sai Lin Kan

  2. Nwa kway yin kya gaih de. Union is strength and United we always stand strong. I was sad but the Karens proved they are not divided and I am a happy man now.

  3. The Burmese Freedom Fighter

     All we have to do right now is focus on each step on the road to our destination through some compromise.

    Compromise, if not the spice of life, is its solidity. It is what makes nations great and marriages happy. Compromise- better bend than break.

    The Burmese Freedom Fighter

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