Ceasefire Signatories KNU and RCSS Condemn Myanmar Coup

By The Irrawaddy 2 February 2021

The Karen National Union (KNU), Myanmar’s oldest ethnic armed group, and a powerful ethnic Shan rebel army have expressed concerns over the military coup and detention of government leaders.

The Tatmadaw (military) seized power in a coup on Monday and detained President U Win Myint and State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, claiming the November general election that brought a landslide victory to the National League for Democracy had been marred by fraud.

The Tatmadaw declared a state of emergency for a year and said a new election would follow, with the military handing power to the winner.

The KNU, which has considerable military and political influence among the other National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) signatories, stated on Tuesday that it “seriously requests that the Tatmadaw, as a gesture of national reconciliation, unconditionally releases all the people it has detained, including government leaders and democracy activists, and peacefully resolves all the political problems through dialogue”.

The armed group said it will stand by the people in establishing a federal union and protecting the democratic transition.

“The Tatmadaw’s seizure of power severely hampers the democratic transition and shows a lack of solemnity in the process of solving political problems through political means and profoundly affects the future of the country which is already faced with mountains of challenges”, the KNU statement said.

The powerful Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) earlier said it opposes the military coup and the detention of the democratically elected government.

Based in Loi Tai Leng on the Thai border in southern Shan State, the RCSS says it is a revolutionary organization working for the equality and self-determination of Shan people, democracy and federalization. It is also a signatory to the NCA.

“We oppose the coup. The RCSS wants federalism and democratic norms and the overthrowing of a democratically elected government goes against democratic norms. We oppose it,” RCSS spokesman Major Kham San told The Irrawaddy.

The coup undermines mutual trust and harms the peace process, he said.

Under the NCA, signatories agreed to engage in political dialogue and work to shape a federal, democratic union based on agreements reached through talks.

The RCSS spokesman said the Tatmadaw’s seizure of power dashed hopes for democracy and federalism.

The Tatmadaw has said since the coup that it will abide by the NCA and the peace process.

“We ceased fire with the Tatmadaw but talks must be held with the government. It is a political path to approve the Union Accord in the parliament. It is the government with which the talks are held. How can we hold talks now the government was brought down?” said Major Kham San.

The RCSS urged the Tatmadaw to back down and solve the crisis peacefully.

The Irrawaddy was unable to contact other ethnic armed organizations for a comment.

Kachin Independence Army information officer Colonel Naw Bu told The Irrawaddy that his commanders had not ordered him to issue a statement and were monitoring the situation.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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