The votes for key positions in the Karen National Union are expected to be closed today, Friday 21 December. The key positions are – the five executives and department heads and the central standing committee. Many observers say the KNU 15th Congress is an opportunity for the organisation to show a united front.
It is expected that the 15th Congress will finish this weekend and all new positions announced.
The Karen National Union’s 15th Congress began on November 26 at Lay Wah in Pa-an District, Karen State. Hundreds of delegates made their way to the congress site by boat, car and on foot. This Congress promised to be the most important in decades for the KNU.
Observers expected this Congress to be contentious as there were a number of pressing issues for the KNU members to resolve.
These include how to deal with the actions of various factions, on-going ceasefire discussions with the government, repatriation of refugees and displaced people, development, landrights, landmines and the withdrawal of Burma Army soldiers from Karen State.
Attending the Congress were representatives from seven KNU Districts and Brigades, members of overseas based Karen groups and local community organizations, observers and other individuals – a total of 200 people.
The Congress agenda included discussions on the Central Standing Committee’s last meeting report, basic principles and policies, policies on the economy and development and future planning.
KNU grassroot representatives and community groups said they want a broader and deeper discussion on the ceasefire and peace process. The seven KNU Districts representatives gave reports and an evaluation of the weaknesses and strengths in their respective offices.
Local KNU representatives also spoke about the issues in their districts, their concerns and their hopes for the future.