KNU On Track to ‘Resume Participation in Peace Process’

Padoh Saw Thamein Tun told NMG that his organization would restart formal talks with Burma’s government ‘soon.’


Monday, February 4, 2019

A senior Karen National Union (KNU) official has said that the organization will meet government officials soon to discuss rejoining Burma’s peace process, in which the KNU has suspended its participation since October of last year.

Padoh Saw Thamein Tun, a member of the KNU’s central executive committee (CEC), told NMG this week that his organization will restart formal talks with the Burmese government “soon.”

The temporary withdrawal was due to issues on which the parties remain deadlocked, he explained, and said the KNU needed time to discuss and establish its positions within its own peace negotiating team, so they could represent the whole organization in talks.

“We temporarily stopped participating in the government’s meetings and tried to explain these deadlock issues [within our team]. Now it’s done. Therefore, we will resume participation in the peace negotiation process,” Padoh Saw Thamein Tun said.

The CEC member also spoke about peace process participation in the commemoration of the
70th Karen Revolution Day on January 31, which took place in the territory of the KNU’s Brigade 7.

“We are going to start again after this celebration, very soon. I don’t want to tell all of the details, because our central headquarters will release an official statement. We have a plan to meet top leaders including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing. We will meet them ahead of time, before we participate in negotiation meetings,” Padoh Saw Thamein Tun said.

He added that the KNU has recently opted to engage in informal meetings with government officials to overcome deadlocks, but still remains committed to the current peace process.

“We won’t cancel the NCA [Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement]. We will continue to implement it,” Padoh Saw Thamein Tun said.

There have been different interpretations of the NCA—on which the peace process is based—by the KNU, the government and the Tatmadaw, as well as challenges in implementing the agreement, according to KNU vice chairperson Padoh Kwe Htoo Win.

“In general, we have the same basic common objectives, but we have different views on implementing the peace process. That’s why we have difficulties,” the vice chairperson said. “The views of the Burma Army are different from the government and other EAOs [ethnic armed organizations], as as well as from the people. There are many different views on it.”

The KNU is one of 10 EAOs to have signed the NCA with the government and military. The other signatories include the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army-Peace Council, Democratic Karen Benevolent Army, Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army, Pa-O National Liberation Organization, Chin National Front, Arakan Liberation Party, All Burma Students’ Democratic Front, Lahu Democratic Union, and the New Mon State Party.