Thursday, January 19, 2012

KIO-Gov’t peace talks progressing slowly


Thursday, 19 January 2012 21:56 Myo Thant

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Political talks are moving slowly between the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the Burmese government, during the second day of meetings. 

“The government and KIO will continue negotiations on political issues,” said a statement issued by the two groups meeting in Ruili, China.

The KIO agenda on Thursday centered around national equality and regional autonomy, issues long valued by ethnic groups trying to establish a federal union in which they are given more control over their political and cultural affairs.

KIO Brigadier General Gwan Maw told Mizzima the KIO wanted to solve the problems that have led to decades of fighting, and the signing of a cease-fire could take a back seat while political issues are sorted out.

“We believe that the fighting is the consequence of political [problems]. So, we believe that the problems must be solved politically, not by the military,” said Brigadier General Gwan Maw.

Whether a cease-fire will be achieved or not will depend on the discussions, Gwan Maw said. Normally, ethnic armed groups and the government sign a cease-fire first and then engage in political talks.

Despite the peace talks, small-armed clashes between Burmese government and KIO troops broke out on Thursday in Kutkai Township, an area controlled by KIO Brigade No. 4, a KIO officer told Mizzima.  Gwan Maw said that peace delegates talked about the fighting in the meeting.

Meanwhile, the state-run newspaper New Light of Myanmar said on Thursday that a mine blast planned by “KIA insurgents” killed two civilians in Kamaing Township on January 16.

Thirteen government peace delegates including team leader Aung Thaung, Ethnic Affairs and Domestic Peace Making Committee member Thein Zaw, Upper House MP Khet Htein Nan and Minister Aung Kyi attended the meeting.

On the KIO side were 12 delegates including KIO delegation leader Swam Ma Lut Gan, La Hpai La, Jee Naung, Lagyaung Khaung Lone, Zaw Khone, Khun Naung, La Hpai Zaw Yaw, Zaw Taung and Brigadier General Gwan Maw.         

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