Myanmar

President’s Office bars Karenni peace conference

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Regional Karenni authorities have blocked an attempt by community stakeholders to hold a peacebuilding forum, according to local sources.

The two-day event, which was set to begin on Thursday 18 February in the Karenni capital of Loikaw, was organised by Burmese migrant rights group Foundation for Education and Development (FED), based in Thailand.

FED director Htoo Chit said the Karenni State authorities instructed organisers to call off the event on Wednesday evening, issuing a verbal warning that the President’s Office did not approve the event.

“We sought permission from the township, district and regional level authorities as well as the Myanmar Peace Centre and they gave us the go ahead so we proceeded with organising the event.

“All the preparations were done by about 2pm on [Wednesday 17 February], the regional government office called our coordinator and told us not to go ahead with the forum as ‘there will be a problem’, and that the President’s Office does not allow it,” Htoo Chit said.

“We decided to call it off and had to apologise to the participants who had already arrived in Loikaw for the event.”

Over 300 participants representing political parties, civil society groups, academics, NGO’s and ethnic armed groups were scheduled to attend the USAIDS funded forum, to discuss peacebuilding measures in the region.

Htoo Chit has vowed to find another way to host the forum to support the ongoing peace process throughout Burma. At the time of print, the President’s Office has not issued a statement on the matter.