KNLA Says It Won’t Attend Third Session of Panglong Peace Conference

By Chit Min Tun 9 January 2018

YANGON — Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) commanders have decided not to attend the third session of the Union Peace Conference—21st Century Panglong—slated for the last week of January, saying peace negotiations have gone nowhere under the military-drafted 2008 Constitution.

KNLA commanders reviewed the results of the second session of the peace conference at a meeting on Jan. 5.

“Our leaders attended the previous session of the Panglong Conference. Upon reviewing it, we found that the conference made no progress from the 2008 Constitution. We are concerned that the next session will be the same,” Brigadier-General Sha Htu Waw, the joint deputy adjutant general of the KNLA, told The Irrawaddy.

“The current peace process is not in line with our aims. Therefore, we don’t have any trust in it,” he said, adding that the third session should be suspended.

The meeting also discussed the DDR (disarmament, demobilization and reintegration) and security sector reform processes.

DDR is one of the key demands of the Myanmar Army, or Tatmadaw, with respect to ethnic armed groups’ full participation in the peace talks.

The army insists there is only one armed force in the country, while ethnic armed groups have demanded security sector reforms including the formation of a federal army that would incorporate ethnic armed groups.

“We have also decided that we won’t accept DDR unless the country achieves peace,” he said.

The government’s Peace Commission declined to comment on the KNLA’s decision. “Everyone knows who drafted the 2008 Constitution. Even the National League for Democracy [NLD] came to power according to the 2008 Constitution and has to work within that framework,” said U Aung Soe, a member of the commission.