Monday, April 27, 2009

KNU urges governments not to support junta’s elections

by Mungpi

New Delhi (Mizzima) - Armed ethnic rebel group, the Karen National Union, has called on international governments not to endorse the Burmese military junta’s forthcoming general elections of 2010, as it is not a step in the direction of political reforms.

Burma’s longest running insurgent group, Karen National Union (KNU), which has been fighting for self-determination, said they were against the junta’s elections and did not believe it could bring any reforms.

“We are against the elections, as it is the implementation of the junta’s Constitution that would allow them to be in power. We urge the international community not to endorse it,” David Takarpaw, KNU’s Vice-Chairman, told Mizzima on Monday.

Takarpaw said, as the junta was heading towards a wrong direction, therefore, it was important to send a clear message to them that their actions and behaviour could not be endorsed.

“We need to rebuild the nation through national reconciliation, which must begin with a tripartite dialogue between the military, the ethnic nationalities and Aung San Suu Kyi led National League for Democracy,” he added.

On Friday, the KNU, released a statement listing out 18 points for which the international community, as well as the Burmese people should not support the junta’s 2010 elections.

“It is incorrect to state this [election] could be a step on the path to reform...,” the statement said.

According to the Burmese junta’s new Constitution, which was endorsed in a rigged referendum in May 2008, the military will have a minimum of 25 percent of seats in Parliament. In the name of national security, the army is vested with special powers to veto any changes even if the Parliament votes for change.

The KNU statement argues that, “There will be no democratic space opened up by having a Parliament. The military parties and their allies will dominate the Parliament, and the military parties will decide the agenda of the Parliament.”

However, the KNU referring to the junta by its official name – the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) said, “We are disappointed that Gambari appears to have endorsed the SPDC’s 2010 elections and Constitution, even offering UN assistance with the organization and monitoring of the elections.”

The KNU said, Gambari should rather act as an impartial facilitator for tri-partite dialogue, instead of advocating a path promoted by the military regime.

“We call on governments, around the world not to endorse the 2010 elections and instead redouble efforts to persuade the SPDC, to enter into genuine tri-partite dialogue,” the KNU said.

Takarpaw said, the KNU was in cohesion with other ethnic armed groups in calling on the junta to implement reforms, that would change Burma into a federal union.

The KNU, which has been fighting for over 60 years against the Burmese military regime, however, came under renewed pressure in recent months, when their troops were ordered to move out of Thai soil, where they had been taking refuge.

“We cannot stay in Thailand now. Though some of us are still in Thailand, that is mainly for medical purposes and the main KNU bases have been shifted back to KNU controlled areas inside Burma,” Takarpaw said.

He said, the pressure from Thailand suddenly came into being since February, after the Burmese military government urged Thailand not to allow the KNU to seek shelter in their territory.

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