Karennis Sign Ceasefire with Naypyidaw

By Lawi Weng 11 June 2012

After nearly six decades of conflict, the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) signed a ceasefire agreement on June 9-10 with a Burmese government delegation after talks in Karenni state capital Loikaw.

The agreement leaves the Kachin Independence Organization as the only ethnic armed group still fighting Burma’s government forces.

Aung San Myint, the general secretary no. 2 of KNPP, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that 17 of the 20 points on the agenda were agreed upon, with the outstanding three points shelved for discussion at the next meeting.

He said the three outstanding points are: the KNPP request to open new bases in Karenni State; the withdrawal of all government troops from KNPP-controlled areas; and a cessation in the building of hydroelectric dams on the Salween River in Karenni State.

The KNPP, which was established in 1955, currently has about 1,000 fighting men. Over the past three decades, thousands of Karenni civilians have fled their homes in Kayah State due to conflict and sought shelter in refugee camps in Thailand. Many have resettled in third countries.

The KNPP said that, in the future, they will cooperate with the government in working toward improving education and health, while also focusing on the eradication of illegal drugs in Karenni State.

Both sides agreed in Loikaw to establish an observer group which will monitor the progress of the agreed points in the peace process, as well as evaluating the Salween dam project in time for the next round of negotiations.

The KNPP said they will meet with representatives of civil society groups in Loikaw on Monday and set up a liaison office in the town as part of the June 9-10 Union-level agreement.

The KNPP delegation was led by Secretary-1 Khu Oo Reh who signed the peace agreement alongside his government counterpart, Khin Maung Soe, the head of the Ministry of Electrical Power.

The Burmese government has completed a series of ceasefire agreements and peace plans with various ethnic armed groups since it came into power in March 2011.

Meanwhile, five bombs exploded at various spots in Muse Township in northern Shan State at around 10 am local time on Monday. One of the bombs had been left in a rubbish bin outside the house of Burma’s Vice-President Sai Mauk Kham. The house is presently under construction and the vice-president was not home at the time. No one has been reported injured from the five blasts nor has any group claimed responsibility for the incident.