By NYEIN NYEIN / THE IRRAWADDY|
The Burmese government’s negotiation team will meet with a delegation from the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) next Tuesday, after the Kachin rebel group last week requested bilateral talks.
Meetings will be held in Myitkyina, the state capital of Kachin State, in a park known as Manau. The KIO delegation will be led by Sumlut Gam, while the government’s team will be led by Minister Aung Min from the President’s Office. High-ranking commanders will be in attendance.
Hla Maung Shwe, a special adviser to the government-affiliated Myanmar Peace Center (MPC), said the meetings would last for about two days, with participants picking up where they left off during previous talks in October last year.
“There will be negotiations on the work of the ceasefire implementation,” he said, adding that the current hostilities would also be part of the discussion.
Over the past month, clashes have escalated in Kachin State and northern Shan State between the KIO’s army and Burmese government troops. Fighting has displaced about 5,000 more civilians, in addition to the 100,000 or so people who have fled from their homes since 2011.
The Kachin army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), a Palaung force, are the only two ethnic armed groups that have not yet signed a ceasefire with the government.
Other major armed groups have signed ceasefire deals with the nominally civilian government, which is now trying to consolidate those deals into a nationwide ceasefire before August.
Gen. Gun Maw, deputy commander-in-chief of the Kachin army, confirmed that the meetings next week would pick up on issues that were under discussion in October, while also focusing on the upsurge in fighting last month.
In October, both sides agreed to de-escalate hostilities, to form a joint monitoring committee to oversee implementation of a ceasefire agreement; to work on four pilot villages for the resettlement of displaced civilians; to reopen roads for public transportation; and to meet again for further talks.