KNU Readies Policy Recommendations

By Nyein Nyein 31 January 2017

The Karen National Union (KNU) is prepared to submit its policy recommendations on federalism at the upcoming Panglong Peace Conference after holding the first round of Karen national-level political dialogue in Law Khee Lar, Hpa-An township on Monday.

Nearly 300 participants from Karen ethnic armed groups—that signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement in Oct. 2015—political parties, and civil society groups representing youth, women and academics, participated in the three-day dialogue.

Policy papers for a federal Constitution to establish a federal Union and regarding the sectors of politics, socio-economics, land and the environment were compiled from the Karen national dialogue.

Karen National Union executive committee member Padoh Saw Ta Doh Moo said the KNU made concise recommendations on key topics. He added that the KNU held a three-day public consultation in Hpa-An from Jan. 18-20, and took those recommendations into consideration when drafting policy papers.

The dialogue is only in its first round. Saw Ta Doh Moo added that similar talks would be held until at least 2020, as the National League for Democracy government said it would hold a peace conference every six months.

The participants told the Irrawaddy that as it was a public consultation, the process went well and there was no debate on the issues.

The Karen also prepared their stance on national security sector issues.

Refugee repatriation and resettlement were discussed under the social sector. But Saw Ta Doh Moo said the KNU could not handle these issues alone as civil society groups like the Karen Refugee Committee and the government collaborate in these efforts.

National dialogues will be held covering ethnicity, regional issues, and certain other themes.

The eight ethnic armed groups that signed the NCA and the government will hold national dialogues regarding ethnicity and regional issues. So far, public consultations for these national dialogues have been held in Karen and Shan states, as well as Rangoon, Bago, Irrawaddy, Magwe, Tenasserim and Mandalay divisions by the KNU, the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), the Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO) and All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF).

In Tenasserim Division, the government-led region-based national dialogue was completed last week.

The RCSS is also holding its pre-national dialogue public consultations in 14 townships in Shan, Karenni and Kachin states, as well as Mandalay and Sagaing divisions—where many ethnic Shan live. The Shan national dialogue will be held in the coming weeks in Taunggyi, said Col Sai La of the RCSS.

“We started public consultations on Jan. 22, and we will complete 14 places this week so we are ready for the Shan national dialogue,” he added.

Civil society groups will hold a national dialogue covering thematic issues.