The Karen National Union has confirmed the suspension of its membership with the ethnic alliance due to disagreement over the policies and structure of the alliance group.
The KNU submitted its official letter to the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), an ethnic alliance group that the KNU has been a core member. The letter was handed in on the third day of the UNFC 1st Congress.
In an interview with Karen News, Padoh Kwe Htoo Win, the general secretary of the KNU and who was among the representative attending the UNFC’s congress, denied media reports that the KNU withdrew from the alliance.
Speaking to Karen News, Padoh Kwe Htoo Win said.
“We do not withdraw from the UNFC. We have only temporarily suspended our participation with the group as we need to consult and review the policies and structure of the alliance. We have proposed a structure and policies that are in-line with the changing political context and that would make our alliance stronger including a more parallel decision making body instead of our existing top-down model that we have been practicing through our revolution period.”
Padoh Kwe Htoo Win said that as some members of the alliance agreed with the proposal there are also some other members who do not agree with the KNU proposed structure and policies of the alliance.
“We couldn’t reach an agreement at the Congress over the structure and policies that we see suit for our organization. So, we need to suspend our involvement and need to discuss the matter within our organization in order to make a final decision whether we continue being member of the alliance or not under the council’s current structure.”
Nai Hong Sar, general secretary of the UNFC spoke to Karen News about the alliance disagreement over KNU proposed structure.
“Some of the members want to keep the same UNFC’s structure that has been in place for two-three years. The structure the KNU proposes doesn’t have permanent chairman or permanent working committee. It has loosen up the centralization of decision making and given more independence for the member organizations. So, there is disagreement among the member regarding the structure.”
Nai Hong Sar said that the UNFC will discuss the KNU proposed structure and see what is acceptable and what is not unacceptable for the member organizations.
Padoh Kwe Htoo Win said that this woul not impact on the ongoing ceasefire and peace talks with the government. He said that KNU will call for a central executive committee meeting in order to review its involvement with the alliance and at the same time review the structure and policies they proposed at the UNFC Congress.
Regarding KNU’s policies on alliance, Padoh Kwe Htoo Win said. “We have alliance policies of cooperation on common issues and we work separately on different issues. We cooperate for the benefit of our organization. The alliance and cooperation should not affect our organization’s sovereignty.”