Military officials, Kachin army members to attend peace talks in Muse or Ruili

Senior military officials and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) will be attending the peace talks between the Myanmar government and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), an organizing member of the peace negotiations said.

Peace panel member Lamine Guamja said the government on October 10 offered to hold the peace talks with the KIO, the political wing of the KIA, and the group agreed to it.

“The KIO refused the government’s invitation to hold peaces talk in Muse or Nay Pyi Taw in September as the skirmishes were mounting at the time. The upcoming meeting is scheduled to be held in Muse or Ruili,” Guamja said.

He said that Aung Min, vice chairman of Union Peacemaking Work Committee, was the one who requested senior military officials to participate in the union level peace talks.

But Dwe Bu, an ethnic Kachin lawmaker from Lower House Parliament, said, “While peace talks are being made on the table, the fights are still occurring in border areas. It is totally impractical to believe that the government forces are not launching offensive (attacks) as both sides would try to anticipate each other. Key persons who can stop the conflict should participate in the peace talks.”

The ongoing armed conflict between the army and KIA started in June last year, when fighting broke out after a 17-year ceasefire agreement fell apart.

When the KIO and the government reached a ceasefire in 1994, and KIO was removed from the list of “Burma’s unlawful organizations”. But in October 2010, following the KIO’s refusal to transform its armed wing into a border guard force, Myanmar state media again started calling them “KIO insurgents”, signaling an official shift in government policy towards the KIO.

Speaking about the Kachin conflict, Noble laureate Aung San Suu Kyi said: “Some people are criticizing me as I remain silent on this case. They can do so as they are not satisfied with me. In fact, I do not want to fan the flames of skirmishes to any side.”

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