KIO vice chairman says army's Putao offensive not helping peace process


General N'ban La Awng, Vice-Chairman of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) met with the Burmese government's chief negotiator in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai on Sunday for talks. N'ban La and his colleagues KIO Joint General Secretary Dr La Ja as well as the Chairman of the Karen National People's Party Abel Tweed took part in the informal discussion with the Burmese government's chief negotiator Aung Min relating to the National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).

In an interview with the Kachin News Group conducted on Monday N'ban La explained that during his meeting he told Aung Min that the “KIO is ready to sign on to the NCA under the right conditions”. This includes the withdrawal of government troops from certain areas in Kachin state. N'ban La added the recent attack on KIO forces by government troops in Putao district were not helping the negotiations process.

The recent clashes between government forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Putao District's Sumprabum Township east of the Mali Hka river has displaced more than 1,000 people, according to aid groups. The clashes in the area which began in June intensified significantly after the army launched air strikes on KIA posts on Saturday July 11th. The air strikes were followed by shelling against KIA posts. It appears that more army reinforcements are being sent to the area, the Kachin News Group has learned.

So far the government and the army have blocked local humanitarian groups from getting access to the group of more than displaced 1,000 people from Mali Yang, Ja Ra Yang, Nhtan Zup, Hpung Ing Yang and Sama Bum villages. It remains unclear if the various UN agencies operating in Kachin state will be allowed to help the recently displaced families either. The UN has so far made no public comment on the deteriorating humanitarian situation that those displaced by the recent wave of fighting face.

The full interview with General N'ban La can be viewed in Burmese here:

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