The Irrawaddy

Govt, Karenni Armed Group Agree to Formal Talks

KNPP and government representatives meet in Yangon on March 7.

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — The government and the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) say they have agreed to hold formal talks to improve relations later this month in Loikaw, the capital of Karenni State.

Both sides told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that they agreed to start the two-day summit on either April 23 or 24 during an informal meeting in Loikaw on Friday between the KNPP’s Peace Implementation Committee and the government’s Peace Commission.

KNPP liaison officer Khu Nyay Reh said Friday’s meeting included discussion of portions of the bilateral agreements they signed in 2012 and 2013 that have yet to be fulfilled.

During an informal meeting in Yangon in March, they discussed joint ceasefire monitoring, troop deployment, development of Karenni State and mining sector transparency.

Whether the KNPP decides to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) will depend on how far the government is willing to relax its terms during the formal talks, said Khu Nyay Reh, as the KNPP was presently focused on seeing the bilateral deals fully implemented.

U Hla Maung Shwe, an adviser to the government’s Peace Commission, said the formal talks would focus on the bilateral agreements and that he expected the summit to prove productive.

The KNPP is a member of the defunct United Nationalities Federal Council and led its negotiations with the government for the past two years.

Two of the council’s four members, the New Mon State Party and the Lahu Democratic Union, signed the NCA in February. The KNPP chose not to sign at the time, in part because it accuses the Myanmar army of executing some of its soldiers in December. Khu Nyay Reh said the Myanmar army, which has claimed that the soldiers were killed in a firefight, was still investigating the deaths.