Karen Armed Group Wants Summit With State Counselor, Military Chief Delayed

By Lawi Weng 8 October 2018

Mon State — The Karen National Union (KNU) says it wants a summit with the state counselor and military chief tentatively set for Oct. 15 delayed and the intended scope of discussion expanded.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Senior General Min Aung Hlaing are to sit down with leaders of the country’s armed groups outside of Mandalay to try and break down roadblocks in the peace process dealing with the military’s demands that the groups promise not to secede from the union and agree to a single national army.

On Saturday, in a statement capping a two-day central committee meeting, the KNU said the armed groups needed more time to prepare for the summit and that the groups would meet among themselves in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on Wednesday and Thursday to coordinate their position.

“We believed it is important to negotiate to overcome these deadlock issues in order to create a federal system,” the statement said.

KNU General Secretary P’doh Saw Tah Doh Moo told The Irrawaddy on Monday that the summit should specifically encompass the armed groups’ long-standing calls for a federal system for Myanmar as well as their concerns with the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), which many of them have not yet signed.

He said the NCA, for example, precludes discussion of the military’s code of conduct, which makes it difficult for the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee to perform its function of adjudicating disputes when fighting breaks out.

“We need to discuss why we cannot talk about military issues at the meeting,” said P’doh Saw Tah Doh Moo.

He said the KNU also wants to ask the military why it was restricting the group’s development projects and training practices when the NCA, which it signed in 2015, allows it to play a role in the development and education, health and security sectors in the areas it controls.

“We [the military and armed groups] have different understandings, so we have not reached an agreement,” he said.

In its statement, the KNU said the government should also be fostering the right conditions to allow armed groups that have not signed the NCA to take an active part in the peace process as well.