Karenni People’s Plan for Good Governance in Junta-Free Liberated Zones

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Maw Oo Myar/ Kantarawaddy Times

In those areas of Karenni State where the resistance move has triumphed over the post -coup regime, significant progress has been achieved in creating a new framework of governance inside Junta- free liberated zones.

In June 2023, an official announcement was made regarding the establishment of the Karenni State Interim Executive Council (IEC), aimed at facilitating a new governance within Junta- free parts of Karenni State. The IEC set up 8 departments and has successfully commenced administrative operations inside these liberated areas.

The Karenni resistance successfully took control of Mese Township, situated along the border with Thailand, in June of that year, followed by the capture of Ywarthit town. This momentum continued with the seizure of Shadaw Township on February 12, 2024.

In Karenni State’s townships such as Demoso, Hpruso, Hpasawng, and Loikaw, Junta troops have been restricted to their stationed bases, as the majority of the territory has fallen under the control of resistance forces. Mobye (Mongpai) Township, positioned on the border between Karenni and Shan states, has also been seized by the resistance. Meanwhile in Pekon Township, Junta troops stay inside their strongholds within fortified bases, hesitating to venture beyond their confines.

Over 40,0000 individuals reside in the townships within Karenni State and along the Karenni-Shan border. Among them, approximately 350,000 have been displaced from their homes as a result of the ongoing conflict following the coup, enduring numerous challenges and pressing needs.

The IEC is endeavouring to establish township-level administrative councils in liberated areas, to facilitate the functioning of administrative mechanisms. IEC Secretary No. 2 U Banyar elaborated that elections would be organized to provide for democratic appointment of officials as part of this process.

IEC remains steadfast in its commitment to establishing a federal union that ensures self-determination, echoing the primary political objective of the Karenni State Consultative Council (KSCC), and aims to deliver protection and services to the public.

U Banyar elucidated that the IEC is presently in the process of forming township-level administrative councils, with the intention of expanding these structures broader in the future.

The hopes and expectations of a great many Katenni civilians were summed up extremely well by a local resident from eastern Demoso. He declared, “Our top priority is the speedy establishment of a well-organized public administration. While having the resistance forces in charge might be acceptable, it is preferable to have a civilian-led governance structure. We also hope for properly structured law enforcement to address crimes and disputes. We believe that armed resistance forces should assist rather than interfere with civilian administration. Despite IEC’s assumption of government responsibilities, many IDP camps are unaware of its existence.”

Criticisms have emerged regarding the practical capabilities of an administrative system that is only one year old..

A resident living in a township under the control of resistance forces voiced a concern over the presence of armed individuals with questionable attitudes posing a threat to public safety, emphasizing that addressing these concerns requires the complete implementation of a comprehensive administrative structure.

When war-displaced individuals returned to their native villages following a relative lull in the conflict , they encountered inter-village disputes upon trying to recover their livestock. A resident emphasized that only through the effective functioning of administrative mechanisms in territories controlled by resistance forces, can such events be prevented from occurring.

“There are many things to worry about. We have to worry about the Junta’s airstrikes. We are also concerned that disputes among locals might lead to significant rifts.” a 59-year-old woman residing in a resistance-controlled area said.

In Shadaw Township, another area under resistance control, a border security team had been established to oversee the security of the entire township. An interim administration also has been established in the downtown area to manage the health, education, and security sectors.

A Shadaw resident told Kantarawaddy Times, “In Shadaw, people are curious to see how the administration will work. Everyone’s biggest hope is that the education and health sectors will be alright. Because of Covid and the coup, children in Shadaw have not had proper education for over 4 or 5 years. So, locals are really worried about education.”

On Myanmar’s Union Day, February 12, the resistance forces successfully gained full control of Shadaw Township. Currently, three camps have been set up for internally displaced people (IDPs) in the township, and most locals are still unable to return home due to security reasons. Despite the Junta’s difficulties in conducting ground operations in resistance-controlled areas of Karenni State, the local population remains threatened by Junta airstrikes and lingering landmines.

Mese was the first township to be controlled by the Karenni resistance forces and declared a Junta-free area. A war-displaced individual in Mese expressed hope that the newly established administration would include civilians among its ranks.

He emphasized the necessity for an administrative mechanism capable of ensuring the safety of the entire population, citing instances where armed individuals among civilians have posed threats to others.

“We prefer to be in our homes instead of hiding out in the forest like this. There is no place like home. To make that happen, we need a trustworthy governing system.

We need to be sure the administration can keep us safe. If there are strong administrative measures in place to stop armed threats among the civilians, then we believe it is time for us to go back home”, he added.

The National Unity Government (NUG) has established an interim public administration committee and is collaborating with IEC to develop a federal democratic system. Over three years since the coup by the Junta, about 70 percent of Myanmar’s territory has fallen under the influence of resistance forces. With ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) and the People’s Defense Force (PDF) consolidating control over the land, the Junta, facing challenges in conducting ground operations, has escalated targeted attacks on civilian areas through airstrikes and shelling.

The absence of Junta troops in their native towns and villages brings relief to the Karenni people. However during the revolution, various resistance forces were armed and mingled with the community, causing insecurity among the locals once again. That is why the public is calling for the establishment of systematic administrative systems that enable participation and mutual protection among the people.

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