Kachins reject ceasefire with untrusted Burmese government

A two-day meeting of Kachin delegates in Laiza, in Burma’s northern Kachin State, concluded with the rejection of a ceasefire without political negotiation with the untrusted Burmese government, according to sources who were in attendance.

The meeting was held at the Alen Bum Military Base, in the KIO capital Laiza, on July 12 and 13 to hear the opinions from Kachin public leaders on renewing the ceasefire between the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the military-backed Burmese government.

Over 120 delegates from Kachin State, Shan State and the rest of Burma joined in the meeting.

During the meeting, Kachin public leaders were told about the KIO’s ceasefire plan by Maj-Gen Gunhtang Gam Shawng, Chief of Staff of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the military-branch of the KIO.

Gam Shawng said the KIO will only seek a temporary ceasefire with the central government of up to six months. However, it can be abolished any time if there are no political talks.

The KIO’s new ceasefire plan was rejected by delegates because of the failure to achieve a political solution over the last five decades, a Kachin News Group (KNG) reporter in Laiza said.

Talks were attempted in 1963, 1972, and the1980 and the period between 1994 and 2010. They all failed to solve the political problems between the two sides, however.

The 22-year military rule of the country ended after the country’s power was nominally transferred to a new government in March, which has not officially offered a new ceasefire agreement to the KIO, so far.

Nevertheless, the KIO proposed a new ceasefire plan to the government, which is led by ex-general President Thein Sein, on July 8, according KIO officials in Laiza.

The public meeting in Laiza was called while the KIO is waiting for the government’s response to its new ceasefire proposal amid growing concern by the Kachin people over ceasefire talks.

The KIO met with peace delegates from the Kachin State Government on June 17, June 30 and July 7. However, the state-level ceasefire effort was rejected by the KIO, Kumhtat La Nan, General Secretary-2 of the KIO said.

Maj-Gen Gam Shawng insisted in the Laiza meeting that the KIO will not accept any form of ceasefire with the government without immediate political talks with the KIO and the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), the political and military alliance formed in February.

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