Myanmar gov't, Kachin rebels agree to peace monitoring

As well as tracking troop movements, the commission will be tasked with deciding which side is responsible for starting clashes.

Myanmar gov't, Kachin rebels agree to peace monitoring

World Bulletin / News Desk

Rebels in Myanmar’s northern Kachin state have agreed to work with their government rivals to monitor troop movements in the hope of ending a conflict that has raged on and off for decades.

The two sides held talks on Tuesday and Wednesday in an attempt to smooth over renewed hostilities ahead of nationwide negotiations later this month.

Observers had expressed concern that recent fighting in Kachin could derail the nationwide peace process, which includes 15 other armed rebel groups and started after Myanmar began emerging from decades of military rule in 2010.

Delegations from the Myanmar government and the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) agreed during the talks in the state capital Myitkyina to set up a peace monitoring commission, according to delegation leaders.

Khon Ja of the Kachin Peace Network, a local humanitarian group, told the Anadolu Agency on Wednesday that she was cautiously optimistic about the new commission, but warned that it would have to be staffed by civilian observers to be successful.

She said, “Whenever something happens on the font line there is no officially recognized monitoring team … if the commission can function properly then it might be very good.”

As well as tracking troop movements, the commission will be tasked with deciding which side is responsible for starting clashes.

Fighting in the state flared up again last month, with each side holding the other responsible.

The KIO is considered the more important of the two ethnic groups that are yet to sign a ceasefire deal with the reformist government.

The KIO last met the government for talks in October, where the two sides made a pact to cease hostilities. The proposed committee is an attempt to put that agreement into practice.

Aung Min, the leader of the government’s delegation to this week’s talks, told reporters on Tuesday that the commission was “part of a pilot project to decrease fighting.”

Meanwhile Sumlut Gam, Aung Min’s KIO counterpart, expressed the need for “face-to-face discussions” in order to end the fighting.

Kachin Peace Network's Khon Ja also warned that other types of violation, including land rights abuses, were likely to be overlooked by the commission, which will focus its efforts on frontline fighting.

At least 22 soldiers from both sides and over 3,000 civilians have been displaced, some for the third time, since early last month.

A 17-year ceasefire between government troops and Kachin rebels broke down in 2011, leading to fighting that has killed hundreds and displaced over 100,000.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Mayıs 2014, 11:11
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