Mutual trust plays a key role in the delay to signing the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), said Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA)’s commander-in-chief General Saw Mo Shay, speaking at an event commemorating the DKBA’s 23rd anniversary at the group’s headquarters in Karen State on December 21.
“We believe in the NCA. We signed it because we believe in the peace process. But is there still mistrust, dissatisfaction, or incompleteness requires more negotiation between the two sides?” he said.
General Saw Mo Shay also said that the eight signatories to the NCA, which was adopted in October 2015, can only move forward to a certain extent without the backing of the other ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) that have not signed on.
He believes good outcomes can be obtained from the political dialogues if all EAOs and the Tatmadaw can agree on the nationwide ceasefire.
The DKBA, a Karen State-based EAO, signed the NCA with seven other groups, including the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS). The DKBA and other signatories are also participating in the Union Peace Conference – 21st Century Panglong, the governments’ keynote peace process initiative.
Around 3,000 people attended the DKBA’s 23rd anniversary ceremony, which was held in Sone See Myaing, Sukali sub-township, Myawaddy Township, including local authorities and MPs and representatives from the Border Guard Force (BGF) and other armed ethnic groups, 88 Generation leaders, DKBA officials and soldiers, and local residents. In addition to General Saw Mo Shay, keynote speeches were given by other invited guests, and messages were read from ethnic allies and political parties. There was also a military parade and entertainment program.
“I’m not very satisfied with the current peace process,” said Saw Andrew, who attended the ceremony. “I believe there are too many restrictions. Progress is slow in the dialogue sector. Peace will be achieved if the discussions are based on human rights, citizens’ rights, and democracy.”
The DKBA split from the KNU in 1994 under the name “Democratic Kayin Buddhist Army”. It was renamed the “Democratic Karen Benevolent Army” in April 2012. Saw Mo Shay took over as the groups commander in chief in April 2016, following the death of the previous commander, General Saw Lah Pwe.