Ethnic Groups Postpone Nationwide Ceasefire Conference

Plans by sixteen of Burma’s ethnic armed organisations to draft a nationwide ceasefire agreement in December this year has been put back until the New Year.

Padoh Mahn Mahn, joint secretary of the Karen National Union, spoke to Karen News.

“We are holding a second round of discussions or conference on the draft nationwide ceasefire agreement that has been developed by the ethnic organizations. After that, we will follow it up with how we can move it onto the national political agenda.”

A member of the KNU ethnic conference preparation committee confirmed to Karen News that the planned meeting for December for the ethnic armed organizations has now been postponed and will be rescheduled for early January.

Padoh Mahn Mahn pointed out to Karen News that the ethnic organisations have had discussions on what its strategy should be in future talks with the government and added that at a recent KNU meeting a number of critical issues related to the governments proposed census were identified that needed to be urgently discussed.

“We talked about what our approach with the government negotiators should be. And we discussed the [proposed] nationwide census that is to be conducted by the government.”

Padoh Mahn Mahn said the KNU were particularly concerned that the proposed national census would classify all the various Karen ‘groups (Sgaw, Pwo, Bwe, Paku for example) under a single category – Karen.

The KNU said that it was essential all the 15 ethnic groups attend the second round of talks.

P’doh Thaw Thi, joint secretary of the KNU and the chairperson of the ethnic conference preparation committee told Karen News that the postponement of the December meeting was to give members time to organize.

P’doh Kwe Htoo, the general secretary of the KNU said that the postponement was decided following a meeting held among the conference preparation committee members.

“The time was tight for the conference preparation committee to prepare for the event. Other ethnic representatives were consulted and we ensure that it will not affect our political process.”

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