Govt Suggests KNPP Sign Ceasefire this Fall

By Chit Min Tun 18 July 2019

YANGON—The Myanmar government on Wednesday proposed that the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in September or October.

The government’s National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC) delegation and the KNPP delegation, led by Vice Chairman Khu Oo Reh, met on Wednesday in Naypyitaw to discuss the peace process and issues facing Kayah State.

“We proposed that the KNPP sign the NCA in September or October and they said they would try to. They accepted our proposal and [said] they would submit it to their higher ups and continue negotiating,” U Hla Maung Shwe, advisor to the government Peace Commission, told The Irrawaddy.

“We will discuss the government’s proposal at our central committee,” Nei Neh Plo, a member of the KNPP peace delegation, told The Irrawaddy.

The KNPP delegation proposed meeting locals across Kayah State and explaining its plans for peace to them. The government, however, said that it cannot accept public meetings similar to those of national-level political dialogues.

The national-level political dialogue is a mandatory step toward the NCA, in which regional stakeholders gather at large, public consultations to give suggestions and recommendations that are then shared at the Union Peace Conference, also called the 21st Century Panglong.

However, the two sides agreed to a meeting between the Kayah State government and KNPP representatives in Loikaw, the capital of Kayah State, on Saturday.

“We focus on outcomes rather than the number of meetings in a particular period. We have not achieved as much as we expected in this dialogue. We are not satisfied with the progress,” Nei Neh Plo said.

“Conflicts continue in the [Kayah] state and there are weaknesses in implementation of the NCA, so we will want to continue dialogues in order to reduce existing challenges. We can sign [the NCA] when there are good results and there is effective implementation [of the NCA],” he added.

While the stalled peace talks between the government and the NCA signatories heighten the KNPP’s reluctance, there are other issues that have yet to be solved in Kayah State, including disputes over plans to erect a bronze statue of Myanmar independence leader General Aung San in the state’s capital, Loikaw. The two sides also have yet to settle a dispute over the Tatmadaw’s alleged execution of three KNPP fighters and a civilian in Loikaw in December 2017.

The government of the National League for Democracy has held peace talks with the KNPP 24 times. In April last year, the Kayah State government and the KNPP agreed to meet on a monthly basis, but the two sides have only met six times since.

Khu Oo Reh, in his opening address at Wednesday’s meeting, called for finding durable solutions rather than making a show of peace.

“We should go beyond the stage of a general agreement made for show and work toward tangible results and durable solutions,” he said, adding that agreements reached in previous talks were quite general.

The KNPP signed a truce with the military regime in March 1995 that collapsed three months later. Fresh talks were held with U Thein Sein’s administration in 2012, which lead to the KNPP signing state-level and Union-level ceasefire agreements.

Translated from the Burmese by Thet Ko Ko. Moe Moe contributed to this report from Naypyitaw.

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