The Irrawaddy

Equitable Dialogue Will Encourage Reconciliation: KNU Chairman

Eight NCA signatories meet in Chiang Mai, Thailand on Dec.14, 2017.

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — An equitable platform for political dialogue and successful negotiation would encourage other ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) to sign the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA), said the chairman of the Karen National Union this week.

KNU chairman General Saw Mutu Say Poe noted during his opening speech to his peace partners at a meeting on Thursday the importance of the negotiation process, as it could change sway non-signatories despite their differing political opinions.

He said, “The political dialogue must be genuine and equitable and we have to prepare so that the basic principles that we raise reflect democracy and federalism. Our discussions need to take into account both current and future issues.

The KNU is one of the eight EAOs that signed the NCA in Oct. 2015 and has participated in the political dialogue process outlined by the agreement. Non-signatories include the five-member bloc the United Nationalities Federal Council based in the southeast and led by the New Mon State Party (NMSP), and the seven-member alliance the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC), based in the northeast and led by the United Wa State Army (UWSA). The Shan State Progressive Party/Shan State Army-North has been a member of both blocs.

The eight signatories of the NCA gathered in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand for a five-day preparatory meeting starting on Dec. 14, 2017, before the third session of the 21st Century Panglong Union Peace Conference (UPC) slated to be held in late January next year.

The members from five sectors: political, economic, social, security, and land and environment – and the senior leaders of each signatory group will review each issue.

Saw Mutu Say Poe said everyone’s effort is needed to have substantive political negotiations. He urged his fellow men and peace partners to prepare strong arguments and learn technical skills regarding the negotiations.

The political dialogue process has to be implemented based on “mutual respect, thorough discussion as well as an adequate timeframe,” so that these dialogues can lead to national reconciliation.

He said that as they have been pushing to solve political problems through political means, and as they now can participate in these political dialogues after more than 60 years of civil war, the opportunity for dialogue should not be underestimated or given little regard.