Amid anniversary celebrations of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, the chairperson of the Karen National Union (KNU) bemoaned the lack of progress and lingering weaknesses in the peace process.
Speaking at the October 15 commemoration of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement’s two-year anniversary, KNU chair General Mutu Sae Po pointed out lingering weaknesses in the pact, which was signed by just eight armed groups in 2015. No additional ethnic armed organizations have signed on in the interim.
Gen Mutu Sae Po noted that the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) has not been able to effectively stage political dialogues at all levels, including along ethnic, region and specific subject lines.
He also called for the ceasefire agreement’s Joint Implementation Coordination Meeting to meet more regularly, suggesting that the current, irregular meeting schedule led to delays.
“The JIMC is the highest body with the authority to implement the peace process in line with the NCA. The JICM assigns duties to the JMC [the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee] and the UPDJC and it has to take responsibility to resolve issues that cannot be solved by the JMC or the UPDJC,” he said in a speech during the Nay Pyi Taw commemorative event. “That’s why I want to earnestly press the need to hold JICM meetings regularly every three months in line with the TOR [the ceasefire’s terms of reference] instead of only holding it when there is a problem. These weaknesses need to be fixed immediately.”
In her speech, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi commended progress on the NCA, which she said has occurred in spite of criticism. She also claimed that conflict has decreased in ethnic armed groups’ areas, and said the local people’s socio-economic conditions have improved.
“The NCA is not an end in itself, but just the first step towards national reconciliation in the country,” she said. “I would like to reiterate today that the NCA opens the door for political dialogues which will pave the way to the Union Peace Conference.”
The Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing urged all groups to take a broader look at the NCA rather than viewing it merely as a ceasefire framework. He called on all ethnic armed organizations to participate in the deal without hesitation.