Monday, May 4, 2009

Intelligence chief meets with ceasefire groups

(DVB)–Senior Burmese intelligence officials last week met with six ceasefire groups to discuss their participation in next year’s elections and the possibility that the groups will disarm, say observers.

Although no concrete information has been given about the talks, a member of the Kachin Independence Organisation, Major Gun Maw, who met with a commander from the government’s Northern Military Command on 28 April, said discussions centered on the elections, and paved the way for further dialogue with the government.

"The main thing is that in 2010 there will be elections, and a new government will emerge,” he said.

“As for the military government, it will have to hand over power…and have the responsibility to explain to the upcoming civilian government about the [ceasefire] groups.”

Six groups in total, the Kachin Independence Organisation, New Democratic Army (Kachin), United Wa State Army, Shan State Army (North), Kokang group, and Mong La groups, met individually with the State Peace and Development Council’s intelligence chief, Major General Ye Myint.

Gun Maw said that further talks will take place in the last week of May, although he refused to comment both on whether the KIO will be participating in the elections and whether they have plans to disarm.

“We will…discuss what we will do with our armed forces,” he said.

“I hope that we will start to talk about this when the two sides meet at the end of May.”

The KIO, who were established in 1961, declared a ceasefire with the government in 1994, although their relationship remains tense.

The government has stated that all ceasefire groups must disarm and form political parties if they are to contest the elections.

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw

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