RCSS, KNU leaders meet to discuss proposed new Panglong Conference

The leadership of the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) and the Karen National Union (KNU) met in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai for a three day conference that began on April 30th.

During the conference the representatives of the two groups discussed the proposal recently put forward by the National League for Democracy (NLD) leader and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to hold a ‘21st Century Panglong Conference’.

The Panglong Agreement was reached in February 1947, following a meeting between Aung San Suu Kyi’s father General Aung San and representatives from the Shan, Chin and Kachin communities. The agreement is named after the southern Shan town of Panglong where the meeting was held.

On paper the agreement stipulated a significant level of autonomy for Burma’s ethnic groups in exchange for their decision to support Aung San’s bid for independence from Britain. Aung San, was assassinated just months after the agreement was reached, his successor U Nu, did little to implement the agreement.

RCSS adviser Khuensai, says that the two armed groups used the conference as an opportunity to share ideas for the Panglong conference. “These two groups have been allies since 1996. They always hold meetings. During the recent meeting, they discussed giving a class on federalism. The leaders of both groups are the leader and deputy leader of the Ethnic Armed Organizations Peace Process Steering Team (EAO PPST). They haven’t met since they were elected in March so they held the meeting. The main [objective] was to discuss and set down a program for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s invitation to hold the ‘21st Century Panglong Conference’,” Khunsai explained.

The RCSS Chairman Lt-Gen Yawd Serk and his counterpart from the KNU, Gen Mutu Say Poe, were recently elected to lead the EAO-PPST at the Second EAO Summit which was held among signatories of the nationwide ceasefire agreement on March 24th.

Courtesy of BNI

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