Tuesday, June 9, 2009

KIO accepts junta's idea of transformation of armed-wing

by KNG

The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the largest ethnic Kachin ceasefire group in Burma has accepted the idea of transformation of its armed-wing proposed by the Burma's ruling junta, said KIO leaders.

The agreement, however, does not automatically mean that the KIO has agreed to transform its armed-wing the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) into a battalion of the "Border Security Force" proposed by the regime, according to KIO officials in its Laiza headquarters on the Sino-Burma border in Kachin State.

On the other hand, the KIO would like to maintain the ceasefire agreement with the regime in the meantime because the ceasefire agreement will automatically end and war will result between them if it rejects the regime's idea of transformation of the armed-wing, said Dr. Manam Tu Ja, KIO's Vice-president No.2, who lives in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State.

Recently during two meetings between the KIO leaders and junta officials at the regime's Northern Command headquarters in Myitkyina on April 28 and May 21, the KIO was offered two political options by the junta, said Dr. Manam Tu Ja.

The first option is that if the KIO accepts what the regime calls the "Overall strategy of armed-wing transition," dialogues will follow between them in what the regime calls the "Plan of Tactics". Otherwise there will be no dialogue between them and the ceasefire agreement will automatically expire, which is the second option.

The junta is yet to explain clearly to the KIO on the follow-up dialogues but it seems to be more focused on transition of KIA other ethnic armed-wings in the country into border security forces, not politics, according to KIO leaders.

KIO repeatedly has claimed that the KIA may transform to a "Defence Force of Kachin Sate" not a "border guard force" someday in the future when it gains autonomy for Kachin State in the Union of Burma.

At the same time, the KIO has just formed a special committee with seven members led by the KIO's Vice-president No.1 Lt-Gen Gauri Zau Seng and the committee will accept all suggestions from the Kachin public and its own organizations. The results will be discussed with the regime, said the KIO.

On the other hand, the KIO has again requested Rev. Dr. Lahtaw Saboi Jum, former civilian peace mediator and General Secretary of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) to form a new civilian peace mediators' group for mediating between the KIO and the regime, said officials in the Laiza headquarters.

Meanwhile, Maj-Gen Gunhtang Gam Shawng, the Chief of Staff of KIA rejected both the plan to disarm and transform KIA into a “border security force" by the regime before the political problems are resolved between the KIO and the junta.

At the moment, the KIA military headquarters in Laiza has ordered its army battalions in Kachin State and Northeast Shan State to reorganize all deserters. It also announced that all men and women of the KIO and KIA have to join a possible war with the regime. There are over 20,000 men and women in KIO and KIA, according to KIO/A officials.

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