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Burmese gov’t peace team meets with four ethnic armed groups

Chiang Mai (Mizzzima) – A Burmese government peace-making delegation met with four ethnic armed groups separately on Saturday to seek cease-fires and peace. There were signs that some progress was made, although the talks are in the preliminary stages.
Rail Transportation Minister Aung Min led the government team. He met with the Restoration Council of the Shan State/Shan State Army [SSA-S], the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), the Karen Nation Union [KNU] and the Chin National Front [CNF] on the Thai-Burmese border.

Representatives of the Karen National Union, left, and the Burmese government and mediators met on the Thai-Burmese border on Saturday. KNU Commander in Chief General Mutu,  KNU central committee members David Htaw and Pado Artoe met with the government's rail transportation minister. Harn Harn Yawnghwe, Tin Maung Than and Kyaw Yin Hlaing of Myanmar Egress also attended the meeting. Photo: Mizzima
Sources said Aung Min outlined the cease-fire process, the opening of liaison offices for the armed groups, and designated times and locations for future talks. He also told the armed groups not to carry weapons outside their respective control areas.  
Mediators were Harn Yawnghwe of the Euro Burma Office, Nay Win Maung, Tin Maung Than, Dr. Kyaw Yin Hlaing, Hla Maung Shwe and Sonny from the Rangoon-based Myanmar Egress.
Aung Min said there are three steps to the peace-making process: to stop fighting, to hold meeting in the capitals of the relevant states, and to draw up development plans for the respective states. A meeting will then be held in Naypyitaw, he said, and if agreements are reached, both sides will sign in the presence of MPs. Sources said this peace-making process would be similar to a “Panglong Conference,” which was interpreted as meaning it will focus more on the needs of ethnic citizens and political issues.

“They told us that a national conference like the Panglong Conference would be held,” said Major Sai Lao Hseng of the SSA-S.
SSA-S officials said they made four demands: to stop fighting, to solve political problems via peaceful political dialogue, to partner with the government in assigning development projects and to cooperate in combating drug trafficking in the Shan State and neighbouring countries.
An agreement also included opening SSA-S liaison offices in Taunggyi in eastern Shan State, and in Mong Ton and Kholam townships. The next meeting with the SSA-S will be held in Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State.
Minister Aung Min also met with Karen National Union (KNU) Commander in Chief General Mutu Saypo, Pado David Htaw of the KNU law department and KNU forestry department official Pado Saw Artoe for the second time.
Pado Saw Artoe said: “We talked about a cease-fire, and then the opening of liaison offices. And we agreed that after a cease-fire both sides can freely enter each other’s control areas without carrying weapons to hold political dialogues between the Union government, all ethnic groups and a group led by Aung San Suu Kyi.”

“The conditions of the ethnic groups are different,” he said. “For the KNU, we need to take time to hold peace talks. The meeting was very frank,” he said.

On trusting the government, he said, “Only when [the agreements] are implemented, can we say we trust it.”
On the same day, Minister Aung Min met with CNF chairman Zing Cung and Joint Secretary 1 Dr. Shwe Kha for two hours and reached a general agreement on a cease-fire, sources said.
“A delegate said the president told them to forward the invitation letter to hold peace talk. He personally came to us and gave the letter. He said the former cease-fire was broken because we did not talk about political problems. He said that was why the cease-fire was not successful. He said we should talk about political problems now,” a source told Mizzima.
The government and CNF agreed to hold a meeting in January 2012 in Hakha. While talking about the development of Chin State, Minister Aung Min suggested setting up an economic zone, said CNF officials.
KNPP secretary Khu Oo Rei said the meeting with Aung Min, KNPP Commander in Chief General B Tu and the KNPP central executive committee member The Bu, was frank. “We didn’t submit anything special,” he said. “We thought that we should meet with them and that’s why we met with them.”
Dr. Kyaw Yin Hlaing, one of the founders of Myanmar Egress, said that all the discussions are in the beginning stages, but they could be fruitful.
“Under the previous governments, cease-fires were not based on the grassroots people. The superior officials agreed to the former cease-fires. So, those didn’t benefit the people, and they were not successful. At this time, both President Thein Sein and Minister Aung Min firmly hold the idea that they will try to find effective solutions for the citizens’ sake,” said Kyaw Yin Hlaing.
“When Aunty [Aung San Suu Kyi] met with the president, she said that the thing she wanted most in her life is peace of the country. Every time the president does something to establish peace, she will support him,” Kyaw Yin Hlaing said.
After the minister met with the groups separately, he held a meeting on Sunday with five ethnic group members of the United Nationalities Federal Council [UNFC], which included the Kachin Independence Organization [KIO], a member of the UNFC. The groups met collectively for two hours.

Details of the meeting were not disclosed. However, the UNFC sent a letter to Aung Min, urging that the government replace peace delegation members Aung Thaung and Thein Zaw with Union ministers. Aung Thaung is also the secretary (1) of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party; Thein Zaw is the chairman of the National Race Affairs and Internal Peace-making Committee.
KIO secretary Dr. La Ja and central committee member La Hpai La attended the meeting.

The last meeting between the KIO and the government was on August 2. Fighting continues between the KIO and the government.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 23 November 2011 05:31 )  

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