Monday, December 26, 2011

Gov’t peace team and PNLO chairman meet

Monday, 26 December 2011 19:21 Aye Le

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – In his series of peace talks with ethnic armed groups, Aung Min, the Burmese president’s special peace representative, met with Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO) chairman Khun Okkar in Bangkok on Friday. It was the first informal peace talk with the PNLO.

After meeting for one hour, Khun Okkar said he couldn’t comment on the talk “good or bad” and he had to evaluate the basic elements of the meeting.

PNLO chairman Khun Okkar, left, and Aung Min, the government peace team leader, opposite. Photo: Mizzima

The PNLO is an affiliated member of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), an alliance group of 11 ethnic organizations, which has united under a principle that peace talks should be based on a nationwide cease-fire with all ethnic groups.

“We don’t have a strong force so we have decided to follow the policy and principles of the UNFC,” Khun Okkar said. He said the two sides would probably meet again early in the new year.

The UNFC was formed with six core organizations and six affiliated organizations. One affiliate group, the Kachin National Organization, has merged with the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and a total of 11 organizations are now in the alliance group.

Khun Okkar said that his group would observe the talks with other ethnic organizations that have held separate peace talks with the government, and study the issues.

One of the topics discussed, he said, involved the ongoing fighting with the KIO after the presidential order was issued to stop all offensives in KIO-controlled areas.

The Thai-based National League for Democracy (Liberated Area) was a facilitator of the meeting, said Foreign Affairs Committee member Nyo Ohn Myint.

“Khun Okkar discussed the root causes of the fighting in Kachin State and Aung Min replied that President Thein Sein had ordered all offensives to stop, but 12 battles have been fought since the order. Some of the fighting involved supply lines and collecting fallen soldiers on the battlefield. There were no more offensives in the area, he said,” Nyo Ohn Myint said.

“I found a different attitude with this new government in the peace talks,” he said. “The previous government’s position was not to discuss political issues, but this government’s stand is not only for a cease-fire but also to talk about political issues. They seem to want a permanent peace from these talks.”

Since December 20, peacemaking leader Aung Min, accompanied by presidential military adviser and former regional command commander retired Major General Chit Than, businessmen and representatives of the Rangoon-based Myanmar Egress group, have met with the Karen National Union (KNU) and the New Mon State Party (NMSP) in separate talks in Thailand.

Leaders of the KNU, which has a fair chance of reaching a cease-fire agreement with the government, say observers, have agreed to meet again in Pa-an on January 12. The NMSP has not yet fixed a date for the next meeting with government representatives.

While Aung Min was in Mae Sot for talks with the KNU, he also met with former leader Dr. Naing Aung of the All Burma Students' Democratic Front, sources said.

In the meeting, Naing Aung presented a four-point agenda for cease-fire talks to lead to political talks with ethnic groups, according to a statement he issued.

The four points are: implement an all-inclusive rebuilding programme, to stop human rights violations, not to harm civilians in fighting, and to release all political prisoners including rebels who are designated as special prisoners.

The Pa-O revolution was born along with the Karen National Union (KNU) revolution in 1949. The PNLO headquarters is based near the Thai-Burmese border opposite Mae Hong Song, Thailand. Its operational areas are in Hse Hseng, Hopong and Mawkmai townships.

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