Tuesday, August 17, 2010

KIO tries to achieve ‘political conformity’

Tuesday, 17 August 2010 02:07 Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Kachin’s main political organisation will try to conform to the nation’s current political situation, the joint secretary of the group said yesterday. The statement came after a weekend meeting attended by a broad cross section of delegates belonging to the northern Burmese ethnic group.

The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) has rejected the junta’s plan to bring its forces under Burmese Army command within its Border Guard Force (BGF).

However, after the two-day meeting of a total of more than 30 Kachin civilian delegates from the Kachin State capital of Myitkyina, Bamaw Township and Shan State; and Christian leaders and delegates from Kachin cultural organisations, KIO joint secretary Colonel Sin Wah spoke of changing his organisation to bring it in line with Burma’s changing political environment. The meeting was held at the group’s headquarters in Laiza, near the Sino-Burmese border.

“In a changing country, the KIO needs to try to adapt to the country’s current situations. We need to change. After the election, we will need to communicate with the elected local authorities and we need to plan for that”, Sin Wah told Mizzima.

The organisation took advice from Kachin dignitaries including Dr. Lathaw Saboi Jum, the former general secretary of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), who successfully negotiated a ceasefire agreement between the ruling junta and the KIO in 1994. The input centred on developing a future plan for the KIO, Sin Wah said, without elaborating.

Nevertheless, Kachin State Progressive Party (KSPP) chairman Dr. Tuja said the meeting was on how to implement KIO policy to achieve political conformity. The former vice-chairman of the KIO resigned to form the political party.

“I think they will decide not to disturb the election, not to oppose the political transition and not to separate from the country”, he added.

Junta Minister of Industry No. 1 Aung Thaung and Communications, Post and Telegraph Minister Thein Zaw demanded that the KIO on July 12 give its final reply to the junta’s offer for the ethnic group to bring its around 8,000 troops (Kachin Independence Army) under the BGF. But the KIO had replied the group wanted to be Kachin battalions of the Burmese Army.

After the KIO rejected the BGF plan on April 22, it conducted a survey on the attitudes of KIO’s grass-roots members and the Kachin public to the plan.

The military junta had since declared on Friday this year’s election date of November 7.

Despite talk of conformity, the KSPP had not yet received permission by the junta’s electoral watchdog, the Union Election Commission (UEC), to official register as a political party though it had applied on April 5, Dr. Tuja said. This meant the party could not start electoral campaigning, but that the party still hoped it would be granted permission because the party had fulfilled all junta regulations.

Similarly, two other ethnic Kachin parties, the Shan State North Progressive Party and the United Democracy Party (Kachin State) had not been granted permission to form the party legally.

However, a further example of the reported preferential treatment given junta-friendly parties is no different in Kachin State. The Unity and Democracy Party of Kachin State (UDPKS), comprised of former pro-junta Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) members, were granted registration by the UEC on August 2 and it had started its electoral campaigning.

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