YANGON — The National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khapland (NSCN-K) removed retired Lt-Gen Khango Konyak from his role as chairman and replaced him with Yung Aung, the deputy minister of the NSCN-K defense department, as interim chairman last Friday.
The replacement was made after three days of meetings from Aug. 15-17 in Taga village, Nanyun town, at the headquarters of the NSCN-K, said U Kyaw Wan Sein, a central committee member.
“The chairman was ousted from his role as chairman and as a member of the NSCN-K, as all of our cabinet ministers agreed on the decision,” said U Kyaw Wan Sein.
The deputy minister of defense of the NSCN-K is the nephew of the late SS Khaplang. He studied in Manipur and is known to be skilled at martial arts and polo.
He will act as both chairman and president of the NSCN-K government.
U Kyaw Wan Sein added that Khango Konyak was removed from the position because he was unable to lead the NSCN-K in his capacity as chairman even though he had held the role for more than a year. Other reasons included that he acted without consultation, did not appoint a vice chair, did not engage with the public, and was unable to guide cabinet ministers.
Khango Konyak, who is western Naga, or an Indian national, was appointed as chairman on June 20, 2017, after the death of the founder SS Khaplang.
Of his role as chairman for 14 months, U Kyaw Wan Sein said: “He [Khango] could not do anything that would develop our organization. We were disordered and our work suffered setbacks. There was no guidance to the ministries and no engagement with the public.”
The ousted Khango Konyak was also restricted from traveling outside the ethnic armed group’s headquarters in Myanmar’s Hukwang valley, Sagaing Region, by the Tatmadaw’s Northwestern Command last month.
Under his leadership, the NSCN-K also lost an outpost in Lahe Township, Sagaing Region, to Myanmar’s military.
The loss was regarded by some as a coup against Indian Naga by Myanmar Naga within the NSCN-K.
It is believed that Khango Konyak and some of his followers have returned to India.
In regards to the leadership change and its effect on peace process negotiations, U Kyaw Wan Sein said negotiations are ongoing, adding that more discussion is needed among NSCN-K members regarding whether to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).
“We have to discuss signing the NCA so that we can move forward. When we do, we will focus on principles that benefit the Naga region,” said U Kyaw Wan Sein. “Then we will discuss our decision with the government.”
The NSCN-K had a bilateral ceasefire agreement with the Sagaing regional government in 2012 and was invited to sign the NCA, which was drafted in 2015. However, as the NSCN-K focuses on having a united Nagaland for the Naga people in both Myanmar and India, its chance of signing the NCA is hindered.
Translated from Burmese by Nyein Nyein.