The Karen National Union (KNU) has approved a roadmap roughly outlining its future activities over the next four years.
The ethnic armed organization is currently convening its 16th congress, where it is taking stock and preparing to hold elections for a new leadership body.
Padoh Saw Thaw Thi Bwe, chair of the KNU Congress Committee, said the 20-point agenda for 2017-2021 was approved on April 4 after lengthy review.
"Regarding the future agenda, when we wrote it we aimed as much as we could to address the potential [political] situation. That means taking into account that administrative operations and [project] activities will be [also] implemented by respective KNU district units as well as and brigade [armed units]," he said.
The KNU currently governs with spheres of influence that overlap with the state government, the Tatmadaw and the Federal government to varying degrees. A recent report by the Asia Foundation, “Ceasefires, Governance and Development: the Karen National Union in Times of Change”, warned that unless political talks, including meaningful negotiations over governance structures, begin soon, a reemergence of fighting in Kayin State will be inevitable.
The Karen National Union was one of the eight ethnic armed organizations to sign the so-called Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with the government, in 2015.
Padoh Saw That Thi Bwe said that the KNU’s next four-year agenda includes intentions for post-ceasefire peace talks, and delves into issues concerns internally displaced persons and refugees, but he did not divulge more specific details.
Translated by Aong Jaeneh
Edited by Laignee Barron for BNI