By AYE NAI
Major highways in Kachin state that have been closed since the outbreak of hostilities between the government army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in 2011 were reopened following the renewal of talks between the two sides.
Kachin mediator in the talks San Aung said two major roads were reopened this week.
“Some roads have been reopened as a result of the agreements made during the recent talks – the roads to Laiza and Myitkyina were reopened on 17 March,” said San Aung.
According to the mediator, transportation services to Lazia have resumed after the road leading to the rebel stronghold on the Chinese border from Lajayang township – en-route to the Bhamo-Myitkyina road – was reopened.
“The next step likely is to coordinate military units – this was agreed upon in the past but had never been implemented,” said San Aung.
The Kachin Independence Organisation – the political wing of the KIA – and the government’s peace negotiators are tipped to hold another round of talks before mid-April.
Government peace mediator Hla Maung Shwe said further trust building was necessary before troops could be withdrawn from the area.
“[Coordinating troops] is a procedure we have to take step-by-step. So far, we’ve managed to reduce fighting [after holding talks] on 4 February and on 10, 11 and 12 March,” said Hla Maung Shwe.
“We became more confident [in each other] and in the next meeting, we should be able to build even more trust. If we rush it too much, then it might not work out.”
The government and the KIA are tipped to discuss a potential truce and troop demarcation in during the next round of talks.
The KIA has consistently called for a political solution before signing another ceasefire with the government after a 17-year truce collapsed in 2011.