KIO Signs New Peace Deal, But Still No Ceasefire

By Saw Yan Naing 10 October 2013

MYITKYINA, Kachin State — The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) has signed another preliminary peace deal with the Burma government pledging to reduce fighting, while stopping short of a full ceasefire.

The seven-point agreement signed on Thursday goes a step further than past agreements by calling for the establishment of a joint monitoring team to monitor troops on the frontlines. It also calls for the development of a plan for the voluntary return and resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs), as well as the reopening of roads that have been closed due to fighting.

The deal came after three days of discussion between leaders of the KIO and the government peace delegation in the Kachin State capital, Myitkyina.

Minister Aung Min, head of the government peace delegation, said the meetings were successful. “We discussed how to ensure that there is no more fighting,” he said. “We discussed pilot projects for the resettlement of IDPs. We will draw the plan for the pilot project.

“We both agreed on almost every point. We have very few disagreements. We will move forward to political dialogue.”

Thursday was the final day of this round of peace talks in Kachin State.

Asked why the seven-point agreement did not include a full ceasefire, Gen Sumlut Gun Maw, the KIA deputy chief-of-staff, said the conditions were not yet in place for that.

“It is KIO policy that we will not sign a ceasefire agreement so long as we feel there is no firm and concrete ceasefire condition on the ground,” he said. “This is based on our previous experience. That’s why we asked for political dialogue instead of a ceasefire agreement.”

He added that the KIO would continue to de-escalate fighting. “Even though we did not sign a ceasefire, we can work to reduce and control fighting on the ground,” he said.

The Myanmar Peace Center, a government-associated organization, said in a statement on Thursday that both sides would work toward a nationwide ceasefire agreement.

“The Myanmar government and the Kachin Independence Organization agreed to work together toward a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) and lay a foundation for political dialogue,” it said. “The NCA will include the government and all non-state armed groups and would represent an end to fighting in Myanmar for the first time since independence in 1948.”

The government has signed individual ceasefire agreements with most of the country’s major ethnic rebel groups. It plans to hold a nationwide ceasefire conference in Naypyidaw next month to consolidate these agreements.

The KIO will likely to join this conference, but before then the rebel group plans to host a meeting in Laiza with top leaders of other ethnic armed groups to discuss their common goals.

Aung Min also said he would invite the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), a political alliance of ethnic armed groups, to Rangoon from Oct 18-20.

During earlier peace talks between the KIO and the government in late May, both sides signed a preliminary agreement to “undertake efforts to achieve de-escalation and cessation of hostilities” and to “continue discussions on military matters related to repositioning of troops,” according to a translation of that agreement. Other points in the May agreement included allowing a KIO technical team to stay in Myitkyina for further discussions with government officials.