Kachin leader expects fewer clashes after Panglong peace conference

By YE MON | FRONTIER

NAY PYI TAW — The Kachin Independence Organisation expects that peace talks beginning in Nay Pyi Taw today will result in fewer clashes between the Tatmadaw and the Kachin Independence Army.

General Sumlut Gun Maw said the KIO had travelled to Nay Pyi Taw for the third 21st Century Panglong Union Peace Conference with “a lot of hopes”. An escalation in fighting across Kachin State earlier this year displaced an estimated 8,000 people, prompting demonstrations in cities across the country.

Gun Maw, who is leading the delegation in place of chairman Lieutenant General N’Ban La, said he does not expect to participate in discussions, but sees the conference as a chance to reopen lost channels of communication between the government, the military and ethnic armed groups.

“We do not expect the conference is for discussions. The main thing is to find a way to communicate after losing contact,” he told media in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday evening. The KIO’s armed wing is a member of the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee, which has not held political dialogue with the government since last year and has been invited to peace talks as an observer.

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Gun Maw also denied that China had pressured the seven members of the FPNCC into attending the peace conference, after they were invited last week. He said all the members are hoping for a positive outcome.

State Counsellor’s Office spokesperson U Zaw Htay told media last week that non-signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement would be invited to the conference as observers, and would also be invited to the opening ceremony and to a dinner hosted by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

The framework for political dialogue prohibits non-signatories from participating in discussions, he said. “But when there is dialogue between blocs, they will be included in the ethnic armed organisation bloc. Then, it depends on them whether there are discussions or not.”

The government has not yet confirmed whether there will be a separate meeting during the conference between Aung San Suu Kyi, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and the FPNCC. The seven-member bloc comprises the Arakan Army, KIA, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, National Democratic Alliance Army, Shan State Army-North, Ta’ang National Liberation Army and United Wa State Army.

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