By MRATT KYAW THU | FRONTIER
The government and the Karenni National Progressive Party are expected to meet for formal peace talks before the end of the month, negotiators from both sides say.
U Hla Maung Shwe, an adviser to the government’s Peace Commission, said the meeting in the Kayah State capital Loikaw was due to be held today but had been postponed for several reasons. “We have negotiated [the date of this meeting] two or three times. This time, the KNPP asked for more time to prepare,” he said.
While Hla Maung Shwe said no date had been set, KNPP liaison officer Khu Nyay Reh told Frontier that the talks would take place on April 26 and 27. “This time [the date is] for sure,” he added.
The KNPP had been expected to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement at the end of 2017 but pulled out of peace talks after the Tatmadaw allegedly killed several of its members at a base in Loikaw last December.
The Irrawaddy reported at the time that three KNPP soldiers and a civilian were executed after being detained during a Tatmadaw raid on their camp. The military claimed that the deaths occurred during a shootout.
An investigation into the deaths is ongoing, but has not yet yielded any results. Peace talks between the two sides are unlikely to make progress until the case has been resolved.
During the KNPP’s last informal meeting with the government in Yangon, group representatives asked if they could join the investigation team, said Khu Nyay Reh.
“We have already sent the names to Yangon of a judicial official from our side and his assistant,” he said. He said if the names were approved, the investigation team would comprise three army officers and one KNPP representative.
After the KNPP pulled out of ceasefire talks, two other ethnic armed groups, the New Mon State Party and Lahu Democratic Union, signed the accord in February, taking the number of signatories to 10.
The government is hoping to convince the KNPP to ink the pact before the next 21st Century Panglong Union Peace Conference, which is tentatively scheduled for May. Only groups that have signed the ceasefire are able to participate.