Thursday, September 13, 2012

KIO deputy commander calls for second Panglong conference

Thursday, 13 September 2012 13:19 Phanida    

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) - The Kachin Independence Organization [KIO] deputy commander-in-chief Major General Gun Maw has called for a second Panglong-type conference to help clarify the ethnic peace process.

The Panglong Agreement pillar Photo: Mizzima

“[The government] must convene an all-inclusive conference,” he said. “What we want is to convene a conference similar to the previous Panglong conference,” said Major General Gun Maw. “In the conference, we must negotiate ‘a common agreement.’” He said the conference should be open and transparent.

Members of the Kachin Peace Network visited the KIO headquarters in Laiza on the Sino-Burmese border from Aug. 12 to 22 to conduct interviews. Burma VJ Media published the interview on the Internet.

Gun Maw said that he believed the Constitution can be amended only through a “common agreement” reached through a second Panglong-type conference. Military representatives in the Parliament will make it hard to amend the Constitution, he said.

“It cannot be amended [solely] by the Parliament. And it’s impossible to hold a referendum. So, if we cannot reach a ‘common agreement’ in a non-parliamentary conference, it will be impossible to amend the Constitution,” said Gun Maw. “So, I told Aung Min that we want to hold it without the Parliament. First, he said yes. And he said the result of our discussion needs to be put forward in the Parliament, and he will assign Thein Zaw to do it.” However, so far that has not happened, he said. Aung Min is a government peace negotiator.

He said that the KIO wants to understand the Parliament’s views on the fighting between the KIO and the government and whether or not it results from the Burmese army failing to obey the government.

He said that whenever the KIO was prepared to discuss withdrawing government troops based near KIO areas in order to avoid fighting, the government stopped the discussions.

On June 20, the two sides agreed to have further discussions but so far they have not taken place, although many locations have been proposed. The two sides, however, cannot agree on where to meet.

Since fighting began in 2009, the government and KIO have met at least nine times.

Major General Gun Maw said that the coming general elections in 2015 are important to the advancement of democracy.

On April 19, the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) issued a statement, calling for a “national conference” to negotiate a general agreement governing ethnic group issues.

The UNFC comprises 12 member groups including Karen National Union, Chin National Front, New Mon State Party, Shan State Army – North, Shan State Army – South and Karen Peace Council. They all have signed cease-fire agreements with the central government.

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