KNPP to Hold Peace Talks in Loikaw

By Lawi Weng 5 June 2012

The Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) is due to hold a second round of peace talks with the Burmese government in Loikaw, the capital of Karenni State, this week.

Khu Oo Reh, the KNPP’s secretary-1 who will lead its delegation, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that his group will meet Burma’s Union government on June 9 after leaving from the Thai border two days earlier.

“We have proposed 20 points to the state government from our last meeting [on March 7],” said Khu Oo Reh. “But we have not reached any agreement since then.”

“At this meeting, we want to discuss having a sustained ceasefire agreement first,” he said. “We need to get this agreement. If there is an improvement on these details, we can discuss further points.”

Railways Minister Aung Min, also Naypyidaw’s leading peace negotiator, will be part of the government delegation at this week’s meeting in Loikaw.

The KNPP said that it will not work on any peace roadmap put forward by the Burmese government but only an alliance plan based on the policies of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) umbrella group of ethnic armies.

The UNFC says that there are five stages to reaching a peace agreement—firstly holding political dialogue, secondly holding Panglong-style conferences, thirdly reaching a political accord, fourthly ensuring constitutional amendments, and finally, forming a federal union and federal armed forces.

Different ethnic armed groups that have reached ceasefire agreements with the Burmese government have reported that Naypyidaw urged them to agree to their own peace roadmap—by forming a political party and contesting the 2015 general election in order to join Parliament—instead of working through the UNFC.

However, KNPP leaders said that they will only negotiate outside Parliament as they do not agree with the widely condemned 2008 Constitution, which guarantees 25 percent of seats for the military.

Meanwhile, Aung Min told the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) during a meeting in Mai Ja Yang on June 1 that he will bring a ceasefire solution to their next round of talks.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy, San Aung, an ethnic Kachin peace broker, said that the next meeting between Aung Min and KIO leaders will possibly be on June 12.

“There are many positive things from the last meeting that are unlike past meetings,” said San Aung. There have been several previous discussions between the adversaries without any agreement, but it appears that Naypyidaw’s new peace team led by Aung Min is making some progress.

The KIO proposed withdrawing their forces from government areas at the meeting. Burmese troops currently occupy areas traditionally run by the KIO and is closing in on the rebel’s headquarters at Laiza.

The Burmese government has deployed 2,000 to 3,000 troops at the Kachin frontline since a 17-year ceasefire broke down last June, according to the KIA. Around 75,000 civilians have fled their homes because of the fighting to live in temporary camps by the Sino-Burmese border.

Aung Min reportedly said that he will bring the KIO’s proposal to be discussed in Naypyidaw before he meets again with the group.