The Karen National Union Executive Committee has dismissed the head of its army, and two other KNU leaders for breaching its ‘peace-talk’ protocols. The three dissenting leaders are General Mutu Say Poe, the Karen National Liberation Army’s General-Officer-in-Command, Padoh Saw David Taw, Chief of the Justice Department and Padoh Saw Roger Khin, Chief of Health and Welfare Department.
The three-sacked leaders earned the anger of their political office when they had defied the KNU’s official peace-talks negotiating process and set up their own liaison office with the Burma government. Concerned Karen fear their actions have not only spread doubts and rumors over the long awaited peace, but may have cause a divisive split that will not benefit the Karen people, but have the opposite effect by handing the government a huge advantage
Speaking to Karen News, a KNU executive member who asked to remain anonymous said.
“The decision to dismiss the three leaders was made at the executive meeting last week. The reasons for their dismissal are based on the points that the three leaders fail to discuss their actions with EC and repeatedly disobeyed the principles of the KNU.”
The executive member said that KNU official letter was signed by Major Saw Hla Ngwe, as the organisation’s joint secretary, the KNU’s general secretary, Naw Zipporah Sein , was not available after the meeting.
“Right after the meeting, the general secretary left on a journey. The official documents [dismissing the three leaders] were prepared later and the general secretary agreed that the document would be signed by the joint secretary on her behalf – that’s why the joint secretary signed the document.”
The KNU executive member, who spoke to Karen News, confirmed that the EC letter that contained the dismissal decision of the three leaders and named their replacements was only sent to KNU executive committee members.”
The KNU dismissal letter circulated among its EC members also contained a statement on its position concerning the opening of the Pa-an liaison office, a review and amendment to the KNU’s constitution, dismissal of the three leaders and their replacements.
Karen News is led to understand that the KNU executive’s decision to sack the three leaders was unanimous. The KNU executive committee meeting was held at an undisclosed location on the Thai-Burma border and is the last meeting before the KNU’s 15th Congress.
A Karen woman, who spoke to General Mutu and Padoh Saw David Taw at the Myanmar Peace Center in Rangoon, said that the General told her he planned to meet and negotiate with other KNU leaders about the ‘problem’ when he returned to the Thai-Burma border.
The Rangoon based Karen People Party has sent a position letter to the KNU. The KPP’s letter said.
“This time is very important time for the Karen unity…we can’t be divided. We will be destroyed if we are. The KPP and Karen people from Rangoon hope that during the peace building process which everyone is trying to achieve, Karen people should help and try to find ways to make this peace process move forward with love and unity.”
Most Karen people and community-based-workers interviewed for this story indicated that they would settle for their leaders being united. All said that Karen politics is rife with splits, family feuds and personal vendettas.
A regional security analyst told Karen News that if there were splits within the Karen leadership it would only benefit the government.
“The Karen peace process is tough enough with out internal rifts. The government delegation includes high profiled business lobbyists, military officials and government ministers with a game plan – if the Karen are divided they will be easy pickings.”
KNU officials from its Brigades, Districts and Townships have expressed a view that even though the dismissal of the three leaders is according to its principles, it is too harsh. They want the KNU leaders to talk to each other face-to-face and to find a compromise position.
The KNU is scheduled to hold its Central Committee meeting this week followed by its 15th Congress that is held every four years to elect its leadership.
The KNU official peace talks with the government’s State and Union levels was first held in January this year, the last meeting was in the first week of September where a ceasefire agreement was reached and signed. The agreement included the opening of liaison offices in order for both sides to be able to communicate and solve problems together.
The KNU’s Supreme Headquarters issued a statement on September 27 that stated its aims in achieving a peace deal.
“The KNU has firmly resolved to achieve genuine peace by resolving the political problems by political means. In order to achieve that end, the KNU has laid down a program to conduct negotiations progressively and systematically.”