In defiance of Karen National Union policy, Karen National Liberation Army chief General Mutu Say Po opened a temporary central level liaison office in Pa-an Town, Karen State on Saturday, September 29.
An attendee at the opening ceremony told Karen News that around 200 people attended turned up as well as representatives from the Burma government.
Minister Aung Min, representing the President’s office spoke at the ceremony.
“The Karen and the Burmese government disagreed before we achieve the independence. So, we started ‘peace-talks’ under U Thein Sein’s government with the ethnic armed groups.”
Observers at the ceremony said the Minister made a passing reference to what is seen as many as a major rift of policy within the Karen National Union’s peace-talk delegation over the Liaison Offices process.
“We could take time to open liaison offices. Some [people] wanted to open liaison offices as early as they could, but some wanted to delay it. As the government, we want to open liaison offices as soon as possible so we can communicate to each other quickly over the implementation of the agreements.”
The KNLA’s General Mutu Say Po told the crowd.
“The civil war between the Karen and the government had increased. A Burmese proverb says that ‘world must know Burmese courage’. A Karen proverb says that, ‘Don’t underestimate Karen blood (courage)’. U Thein Sein’s government offered us civil peace and we have entered into talks. Later we agreed on a ceasefire and began to open liaison offices. This liaison office will serve to keep us in touch with each other and to understand each other at the ground level.”
The Government and business people donated television, computers, medicines and 50-wheel chairs to the Pa-an liaison office.
The government’s main delegates attending the liaison office opening included Minister Aung Min from the President’s office, U Win Tun the Union Minister of Environment Preservation and Forestry Department, U Zaw Min Chief Minister for Karen State, and U Tin Maung Than from Myanmar Egress.
General Mutu Say Po led the Karen representatives who included, Padoh Saw David Taw, Brigadier General Johnny and Padoh Saw Shwe Maunn.
On Friday last week the KNU Supreme Headquarters released a statement that said General Mutu Say Po and his group were opening the liaison office without the approval of the organisation’s approval.
General Mutu’s go-it-alone actions have caused many in the Karen community to question if Karen unity is about to implode and will disadvantage the Karen peace-talk negotiators in their on-going discussions with the government.