Karenni State Govt ‘Not Paying Attention’ to Peace Process, CSOs Say

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By SOE HTET AUNG / KANTARAWADDY TIMES

The Karenni State Farmers Union has criticized the Karenni State government as putting electoral goals ahead of the peace process.

“The state government doesn’t pay attention to the peace process. They are paying attention to winning the election and getting power again,” Sitt Mone, who is working with the farmers union, said. “They are trying to create a positive image amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though they are working hard to win the election, they are ignoring the peace process.”

One of the most prominent armed groups in Karenni State, the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) agreed to hold monthly meetings with the state government, but the meetings did not happen systematically. The last one was on March 3.

Kyaw Htin Aung, chair of the Technical Support Network, said that not being able to hold regular meetings is a sign of weakness in the process.

“They have a weakness in taking responsibility and being accountable. They cannot implement regular meetings and discussions for the longer-term peace process,” he said of the current government. “They are so weak in implementing the building of a future federal union through negotiation and dialogue meetings in ethnic states.”

Other civil society sources have recommended that the state government hold more peace-related meetings through online conferencing, to increase their interactions with ethnic armed organizations.

Khu Boe Reh, who is in charge of the KNPP’s Shadaw Township liaison office, said that meetings with the government have not taken place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We can not hold regular meetings with the government amid the COVID-19 pandemic. If people feel they are unsafe, we will report it in meeting attended by the State Counsellor,” Khu Boe Reh told Kantarawaddy Times, referring to Aung San Suu Kyi.

Pae Du, a parliamentarian for Hpruso Township, said that the problem is the lack of autonomy of the state governments.

“I don’t think the state government can make decisions even though they attend meetings with EAOs under the direction of the State Counsellor. The state government doesn’t have the power to make decisions. The peace process is a very sensitive issue. Therefore, only the Union government can make decisions [about it],” he explained.

The central government’s National Reconciliation and Peace Center, the Karenni State government and the KNPP held their first meeting on May 6, 2019. They met again in July and December, and in March of this year.

The KNPP signed a state-level ceasefire agreement with the government in 2012 and a Union-level ceasefire in 2013. The KNPP not signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the government and military.

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