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Withdraw all government troops: KNU

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Karen National Union (KNU) issued a four-point statement on Wednesday calling for the withdrawal of all government troops from its control areas.2

Burmese government and Karen National Union officials greet each other in Naypyitaw on January 13, 2012, a day after they signed a cease-fire agreement. Photo: MizzimaKNU General-Secretary Saw Hla Ngwe told Mizzima that they made the demand after government troops took positions about 2,000 yard from some of their positions. KNU troops are barred from approaching within 200 yards of government supply lines to avoid clashes, but the close proximity of the two armies presents a volatile situation, officers said.

“Eyeball-to-eyeball confrontations with them are likely. Even if there are no confrontations, if these government gun-wielding soldiers loiter in our area, it will not be good for us,” said a KIO officer.

More than 200 KNU outposts are located in Bago Region, Taungoo District, Nyaunglaybin District, Karen Region Pa-an District, Duplaya District, Tanitharyi Region Myeik District, Dawei District and Mon Region Thaton District. The areas are KNU-control areas under the command of KNU Brigades 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. The KNU control areas are contiguous with government military commands of the Coastal, Southeast and Southern commands.

KNU Major Saw Hla Ngwe said that there could be armed conflicts with their troops if the government sent rations and supplies to their frontlines. In early February, KNU troops clashed with government troops in areas between Papon and Nyaunglaybin districts. Four government soldiers were killed, Major Saw Hla Ngwe told Mizzima.

The KNU statement also called for the government to stop reinforcing its troops, to halt military operations in all ethnic areas including Kachin State, and to release all KNU-member political prisoners including Mahn Nyein Maung.

If the government meets its demands, it would start initial political talks, officials said.

The KNU statement issued on Wednesday also called for a four-stage peace roadmap process: a first-stage ceasefire; consolidating the cease-fire; political talks; and finally political cooperation.

KNU Major Saw Hla Ngwe told Mizzima that it could take two to three years to implement the four-stage peace roadmap. Railway Minister Aung Min leads the government peace delegation; Major General Mutu Say Pho leads the KNU peace delegation. They signed an 11-point preliminary cease-fire agreement on January 13.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 23 February 2012 12:20 )  

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