Friday, November 25, 2011

Burmese government peace team to meet with KIO in China

Friday, 25 November 2011 21:47 Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Burmese government peace negotiators will meet with the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) in Shweli in China’s Yunnan Province on Tuesday.

The government team includes Thein Zaw, the chairman of the Lower House National Race Affairs and Internal Peace-making Committee; Aung Thaung, the chairman of the Lower House banking and financial development sub-committee; Rail Transportation Minister Aung Min; and Maung Muang Thein of the Economic and Trade Development Committee.

Aung Thaung, the chairman of the Lower House banking and financial development sub-committee Photo: Mizzima

A source who will attend the meeting said: “On behalf of the citizens, we will talk. People want peace. They want the government to stop launching military offensives and to begin a political dialogue as soon as possible.”

The negotiations will focus on finding political solutions to ethnic issues rather than military options, said the source.

Jade Land Company owner Yup Zaw Khaung, Iamai Gum Ja, Ing Sin San Aung and singer Hkabya Hkung Aung will attend the meeting as representatives of the Kachin people.

On November 19 and 20, Minister Aung Min met with KIO leaders as a preliminary step in Mae Sai, Thailand. During the meeting, the KIO presented videos of the three meetings between Kachin leaders and the Kachin state government peace delegates to forward to President Thein Sein.

Although the government side wants to talk about a cease-fire, the KIO has held fast to wanting to conduct a political dialogue first before seeking a cease-fire.

The KIO noted that the previous 17-year cease-fire was broken when the former junta pressured the KIO to transform into a Border Guard Force and the issue led to fighting. A genuine political agreement is essential, it said.

The KIO also complained that although it attended the 14-year convention that drafted the current Constitution, it put forward a 19-point demand for national equality and the demand was ignored.

The Union government formed the National Race Affairs and Internal Peace-making Committee to hold peace talks with ethnic armed groups. However, the committee can negotiate agreements only with some groups and the peace-making process has been delayed, said observers. One result is that the government has appointed Minister Aung Min as a peace delegate, they said.

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