The Karen National Union elections for its four-year term leadership ended on April 8, 2017 after the top five positions were voted in.
Chairperson, General Mutu Sae Po was re-elected to serve in the position for another four years, while Naw Zipporah Sein lost her position as vice-chair in an early round of the election vote. Ms Sein, the KNU’s only senior women leader, and the organization’s former vice chairperson missed out on one of the organization’s top five positions.
On 6th April, 2017, the KNU voted for its 60 Central Standing Committee (CSC) candidates that ran for the 41 seats held by CSC members, added to that are the 14 automatic seats for the seven Brigadiers and seven District Chairpersons. The total position on the CSC are 55, who will serve as the KNUs lawmakers.
On Friday, 7th April, 2017, the KNU voted again for the 41 CSC members and the results came out that the most senior KNU leader Padoh Zipporah Sein was not included in the 41 names on the list.
Ms Sein was not the only senior member to lose her top five position. The former KNU’s joint secretaries – Padoh Thaw Thi Bwe and Padoh Mahn Mahn, didn’t secure enough votes to get included in the 41 names on the list.
Today, on April 8, the top five positions that include the chairperson, vice chairperson, secretary, joint secretary 1 and joint secretary 2 were voted for within the 55 CSC members by a total of 217 voters. According to the result, General Mutu Sae Poe was re-elected chairperson, former general secretary Padoh Kwe Htoo Win was elected vice chairperson, Padoh Ta Doh Moo was elected general secretary, Padoh Hser Pwe (also known as Saw Steve) elected as joint secretary 1 and Padoh Saw Hla Tun elected as joint secretary 2.
The top five positions holders will later nominate another six people to form the KNU’s eleven-member Central Executive Committee as well as the heads of all the departments.
Karen sources told Karen News that the old KNU leadership was split on two major different positions held towards how the peace talks should proceed. While the chairperson General Mutu Sae Po group has voiced support for having closer engagement with government groups and the military, Padoh Naw Zipporah Sein’s faction had taken a more cautious approach and pushed for political settlement before mega development projects were given the green light.
Ms Sein was renowned for her stance on unity among the ethnic armed organizations and had said that any national Ceasefire Agreement needed to include all EAOs.
Karen analysts express their feeling that the election result showed that there will be a lesser degree of balance with the new leadership in terms of its positions on major issues for the Karen such as in the ongoing peace process, ceasefire agreement and economic development.