Tuesday, March 24, 2009

KNU refuses to yield to pressure

by Salai Pi Pi

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The ethnic Karen rebel group – Karen National Union (KNU) – on Tuesday said they will not yield to any form of pressure to partake in the 2010 general election unless Burma’s generals implement changes to their roadmap.

David Takapaw, Vice-President of the KNU, on Tuesday said that while the KNU is open to peace talks, they will remain firm in their demand for a revision of the junta’s constitution.

To date, the KNU has demanded an all inclusive dialogue based on a national reconciliation process and has boycotted the junta’s seven-step roadmap.

“When it comes to the junta’s road map, we will not change our stand on the roadmap, which is unacceptable,” Takapaw told Mizzima via telephone.

However, Takapaw said the KNU is ready to hold talks with the Burmese regime if it is aimed to address the ongoing conflict in Burma.

“If the regime is willing to solve problems in peaceful ways, we are ready to talk with them,” said Takapaw, adding that the KNU will insist the regime first convene a tripartite dialogue and amend the constitution.

On Monday, Thailand’s Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, who had visited Burma for a two-day trip, said he was asked by the Burmese junta to persuade the KNU in joining the 2010 election.

Takapaw said so far the KNU has not received any official communication from Thailand for talks.

Starting last month, the Thai government placed renewed pressure on the KNU and ordered them to move out of Thai territory, a move which Burmese observers believe could have been made at the behest of the Burmese junta.

“We have moved all of our offices into KNU controlled areas inside Burma,” Takapaw said.

He stressed that the Burmese army has continued attacking them in different areas such as Taungoo, Nyuanglebin and Tathon districts in eastern Burma.

“On a daily basis, they [Burmese army] are still attacking us,” Takapaw added.

The KNU and its armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), represents Burma’s oldest rebel group – fighting for self-determination since 1948.

A previous peace dialogue with the Burmese junta bore initial fruit, but efforts proved to be in vain following the sudden purge of the junta’s then Prime Minister, Khin Nyunt, in 2004. Since then, peace talks between the two groups have come to a standstill.

Edited by Mungpi

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