Eighth Meeting Between Burmese And KIO Officials

Written by KNG
Tuesday, 29 September 2009 13:43
The eighth meeting between Burmese military officials and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) got off the ground today in Myitkyina, the capital of Burma’s northern Kachin State, said KIO sources.

The meeting is on at the Mali Hka Hall in the Burmese Army’s Northern Regional Command headquarters based in Myitkyina. The meeting began at 10 a.m. local time, said KIO officials in the group’s Laiza headquarters on the Sino-Burma border in Kachin State.

KIO sources said this time, the meeting will mainly focus on issues related to civil departments under the KIO rather than the contentious Border Guard Force issue.

The Burmese junta’s Northern Commander Maj-Gen Soe Win (left) and KIO chairman/president Lanyaw Zaw Hra

The KIO delegates are meeting Maj-Gen Soe Win, the junta’s commander of the Myitkyina-based Northern Regional Command and a local chief negotiator to the KIO and other pro-junta Kachin militia and armed groups in Kachin State, said KIO sources. The KIO delegates are led by Vice-president No. 1 Lt-Gen Gauri Zau Seng, those in-charge and their deputies in the Education, Health, Forestry, Rural Reconstruction and Military Departments of the KIO, a KIO officer in Laiza said.

In this meeting and every meeting in the past since April, Maj-Gen Gunhtang Gam Shawng, Chief of Staff of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) was especially invited by the junta, but he did not attend all the meetings, said KIA sources.

The KIA Chief of Staff maintained at the public meeting in Laiza HQ that he firmly believes that the KIA issue should not be resolved before the political issues are sorted out between the KIO and the junta, according to residents of Laiza.

The KIO has proposed the space and administrative power of its civil departments. The junta in turn has told the KIO that these issues are negotiable except the Border Guard Force issue, said KIO officials.

The junta has set October 31 as the deadline for transforming the KIA, the armed wing of the KIO to the Burmese Army-controlled Border Guard Force along with other ethnic ceasefire groups in the country.

The KIO has accepted transformation of its armed-wing in principle but it does not want it to be put under the control of the Burmese Army. The KIO has proposed to the junta to allow it to transform KIA to a brigade level Kachin Regional Guard Force (KRGF).

In April, the junta officially told all ethnic ceasefire groups in the country to transform to the junta-controlled BGFs as a step towards having only one military command in the country before the 2010 elections.

The KIO is aware that the junta’s BGF strategy is meant to gradually disarm all ethnic armed groups who have fought against the Burman-dominated successive governments for decades, said KIO officers.

In a surprise move since September 24, China is constructing three refugee camps for the Burmese in Yunnan province near the Burma border despite no signs of strife on the border between Burmese troops and border-based ethnic armed groups. No Burmese refugee has fled to the China border either.

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