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Kachin hold talks on future as election date release

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The main ethnic Kachin organisation has called a meeting this weekend to discuss its future. The decision follows the announcement by the junta’s electoral watchdog that Burma’s first elections two decades will be held on November 7, Kachin leaders said.

Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) departmental heads, Kachin religious leaders and representatives from cultural groups will exchange views during the gathering at the KIO head office in Laizar on the Sino-Burmese border. At least 40 are likely to attend, joint secretary Colonel Sin Wah said.
“Participants will present their opinions on the future of our organisation, especially on the transition. The meeting may last up to three days and will start tomorrow from about 8 a.m.”, KIO Joint Secretary Colonel Sin Wah said.

Junta Minister of Industry No. 1 Aung Thaung and Communications, Post and Telegraph Minister Thein Zaw demanded the KIO on July 12 give its final reply to the junta’s offer, which Burma watchers describe more as a demand, for the ethnic group to bring its 8,000-strong Kachin Independence Army (KIA) under the command of the Burmese Army’s Border Guard Force (BGF) before the elections.

“Doing as per the Panglong Agreement is also the transformation. Transformation means the right to autonomy for the Kachin people. We will accept transformation if we are permitted to exercise this right”, a KIO officer said on condition of anonymity.

The Panglong Agreement was a deal reached between the Burmese government under Aung San and the Shan, Kachin and Chin peoples on February 12, 1947, which accepted in principle “Full autonomy in internal administration for the Frontier Areas” and envisioned the creation of a Kachin State by the Constituent Assembly (Burma’s first post-independence parliament.)

KIO has also been gauging input from its rank and file and fellow Kachin on the transformation issue since last May. Its final counter-offer on the BGF issue was that it would only accept Kachin troops in their own battalions, without junta commanders.

The junta made the BGF offer to all ethnic armed ceasefire groups on April 28 last year but the KIO, the New Mon State Party, United Wa State Army, the Shan State Army – North, and Brigade Five of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army have continued to refuse the offer.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 14 August 2010 01:56 )  

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