Thursday, July 24, 2014

Burma's ethnic armed groups meet in Laiza for peace conference

Laiza, the capital of KIO in Kachin state, northern Burma
Senior representatives from 16 of Burma's armed ethnic groups this week arrived in Laiza, the Kachin Independence Organization's (KIO) de facto headquarters, for talks aimed at solidifying a united rebel front in advance of further negotiations between the armed groups and the central government later this year. The talks began on Thursday and are expected to last till early next week.

KIO officials tell the Kachin News Group (KNG) that they would like to see a common position among all of Burma's armed groups in order to deal with the government's proposed national ceasefire. This may prove difficult as some of the armed groups have very different ideas as how to negotiate with Thein Sein's nominally civilian government.

Gen Mutu Say Poe, chairman of the Karen National Union (KNU) is just one of the many high profile guests who arrived in Laiza over the last two days via Myitkyina, in convoys organized by the Kachin Peace Creation Group, an organization headed by Kachin businessmen Yup Zau Hkawng. Others who made the trek to Laiza include the New Mon State Party (NMSP) chief Nai Hong Sar, who also serves as secretary of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC).

The United Nations Special Envoy Vijay Nambiar is expected to make an appearance later this week to observe the proceedings. A representative from China's may also attend although this hasn't been confirmed.

A spokesperson for the United Wa State Army (UWSA) Burma's largest armed rebel told the Irrawaddy magazine that they would not be attending. Some UWSA representatives have attended previous rounds of discussions but for the most part the Wa stays away from such gatherings. The UWSA's close from the Mong La based National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) is also not expected to attend.


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