Fri 29 Sep 2006
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
A delegation from the ethnic opposition group Karen National Union is preparing to hold talks with Burma’s military government in an attempt to reach a peace accord, a move that has sparked disputes among the group’s leadership.
The four-member delegation from the KNU’s military wing, the Karen National Liberation Army, was expected to leave for Burma on Friday, according to David Taw, head of the KNU foreign affairs office. The delegation includes four senior military officials: Col Paw Doh, Lt-Col Jonny, Maj Yin Nu and Maj Shwe Ro.
Details of the trip are not known, but the meeting is expected to take place in the new capital Naypyidaw.
The junta earlier rejected a proposed trip by a six-member civilian and military delegation and insisted on the talks taking place only between military, not civilian, leaders, KNU sources say. Burma’s ruling junta preferred to speak with leaders of KNU Brigade 7, deployed in Pa-an in Karen State, according to David Taw.
Senior members of the rebel group held two-day talks that ended on Friday, during which disputes arose over the selection of delegates.
The planned talks in Naypyidaw follow several earlier attempts to establish dialogue with the Burmese regime. KNU officials met Col Myat Htun Oo of Burma’s ruling State Peace and Development Council on June 21 in Myawaddy, opposite Mae Sot in Thailand. Col Myat Htun Oo is also reported to have met Brig-Gen Htain Maung, head of Brigade 7, during which the junta representative expressed his preference for â€œarmy-to-armyâ€ talks.
Some members of the KNU are concerned that negotiations between military leaders will lead to an agreement without the consent of other civilian members, according to David Taw. â€œThe delegation that travels to Burma are from Brigade 7, so we’re not sure whether they represent the KNU or their own interests,â€ he said.
Col Myat Htun Oo met briefly with ailing Karen leader Gen Bo Mya in Mae Sot on July 15-a meeting reportedly arranged by the general’s son, Ner Dah Mya, who is said to have arranged it with Burmese embassy officials in Bangkok on June 28.
Tensions have increased since December 2005 between the group’s executive committee members and military leaders from Brigade 7, who at that time met Burma’s military attachÃ©, Col Tin Soe, without first consulting KNU executive committee members.