Karen Groups Hopeful About Upcoming KNU Congress

By Network Media Group
Tuesday, December 14, 2021

There is great expectation among Karen civil society organisations (CSOs) that the Karen National Union (KNU) will officially announce its position on the failed Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) at its 17th congress early next year, when the ethnic armed group elects its new leadership.

Naw Hser Hser of the Karen Women Organisation told NMG that in the current political climate we should think beyond the NCA, which the Burma Army has clearly “violated”. She hopes Karen leaders will seriously consider this matter and make a ”concrete decision”. She wants new ”leaders who can work with other ethnic groups to develop a viable strategy for a political alliance”.

Saw Tha Boe, an environmental activist, said: “We need new leaders who can guide the political transition that is currently taking place in Burma and protect all Karen people… to achieve self-determination.”

The KNU meets every four years for the congress, which was postponed last year because of the pandemic and the coup. At the next congress, participants will discuss how Burma’s oldest armed group will work with other groups opposed to the regime that toppled the democratic government more than 10 months ago.

According to Padoh Saw Taw Nee, KNU central committee member and head of the foreign affairs department, congress participants will elect the new KNU leadership. The KNU, members of the seven brigades of the KNU’s military wing, the Karen National Liberation Army, and civil society organisations will hold discussions on the past four years and the future of the ethnic armed group.

Currently, Gen General Saw Mutu Say Poe is the chair of the KNU and Padoh Saw Kwe Htoo Win is the vice chair.

The KNU signed the NCA in 2015. There are currently nine ethnic armed groups in the ceasefire, which began under the Thein Sein government.