“Since we believe that resolving these issues through political means is the only way to achieve a political situation with minimal losses and sacrifices, we, the seven groups, will seek a solution to the political problems by political means. “ – Colonel Saw Kyaw Nyunt, KNU/KNLA(PC)

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Caption - Colonel Saw Kyaw Nyunt, spokesperson of KNU/KNLA(PC)

An interview with Colonel Saw Kyaw Nyunt, spokesperson of the KNU/KNLA(PC), who was appointed joint secretary of the 7 EAO Alliance that emerged from the NCA-S EAOs

The seven Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) that signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), referred to as the NCA-S EAOs, announced on 18 March that they will continue to overcome the current political crisis through political means as an alliance until a federal democratic union is established.

The summit of the 7 NCA-S EAOs was held on 17-18 March 2024 in Chiang Mai, Thailand, during which the 7 Ethnic Armed Organizations Alliance (7 EAO Alliance) was formed, according to the announcement.

The Independent Mon News Agency (IMNA) conducted this interview with Colonel Saw Kyaw Nyunt, spokesperson of the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army-Peace Council (KNU/KNLA-PC), who was appointed the joint secretary of the newly formed 7 EAO Alliance, to learn more about the formation of the group.

Q: What agreements were reached during the two-day summit of the NCA-S EAOs?

A: Our summit had a single objective – a new grouping with the 7 EAOs. This included discussing and determining the necessary responsibilities and authorities. We had about four months to coordinate and prepare to convene this meeting. Based on these preparations, we discussed and agreed on the key objectives, responsibilities and powers necessary for the 7 EAOs alliance to move forward in the upcoming political arena.

Q: Before, we knew of the 7 NCA-S EAOs. But in the 18 March announcement, it says the 7 EAO Alliance is a new grouping. What is the difference from before? Are there new tasks?

A: In terms of tasks, there are no major changes. Our main principle remains to overcome the current crises in our country through political dialogue in order to resolve political problems. And in such dialogues we need to strive for the participation of all stakeholders. Another goal is that in this ongoing conflict, we want to prevent and reduce the unwanted loss of civilian lives and destruction that we witness on a daily basis. The protection for the civilians is also a key focus. Previously as the 7 EAOs, we worked as the Peace Process Steering Team (PPST). As you know, the PPST was initially formed by the 10 EAOs that signed the NCA in 2015. It went from 10 to 7, and later to 5 EAOs.

So, our grouping gradually diminished. And what we have noticed is that under the banner of the PPST, some organizations have found it difficult to jointly and unanimously participate in political dialogue sessions to overcome the current political crisis. So, our intention is to make it comfortable for all. So, as I said before, for the upcoming arena, we have formed the 7 EAO Alliance with the consensus of all parties, which we believe is suitable for the current political situation. During our two-day summit, we comprehensively discussed and finalized the necessary organizational structure, responsibilities and powers for moving forward with this new 7 EAO alliance grouping.

Q: Like you said, in terms of resolving political problems through dialogue, how do other EAOs view the current political situation?

A: That’s a good question. But in reality, the current political circumstances we are facing are not normal. If we look back over the 70 plus years since our independence, we have never faced such difficult and challenging political crises like now. Therefore, in such an abnormal situation, it is possible that sometimes even among EAO, organizations or individuals, there may be different views, disagreements on goals and approaches. Such things exist, of course.

But, we all understand that political problems have led to this crisis or this armed conflict. We believe that resolving these issues through political means is the only way to achieve a political situation with minimal losses and sacrifices. That is why we, the seven groups, have decided to seek a solution to the political problems through political means, as I already said. And in doing so, we will also seek the participation of all stakeholders.

Q: The statements also mention that the path of political means will also pursued. Will you as the KNU/KNLA (PC) also continue the political dialogue with the military council?

A: Since the KNU/KNLA (PC) is one of the organizations within the current 7 EAO Alliance, we have decided at today’s summit to work together in unity as part of this collective effort. So it can be said that we will continue the efforts for a joint political dialogue.

Q: What would you like to add about the meeting?

A: At this time, the scope of war we are facing in our country is unprecedentedly vast. Even though the framework of political dialogue that we are discussing is extremely narrow, and almost non-existent at times, I would not say that the possibility of resolving political problems through political means is completely insignificant. No matter what, the difficulties and fears we face in this country are consequences of political problems, the aftermath of this internal armed conflict – and these should not extend into the next generation. What I mean is, we want to leave a legacy of union peace to our future generations.

And to achieve this, as we had a shared understanding and aspiration before, we need to build a union that guarantees democracy, national equality, and self-determination through dialogue and reconciliation among all parties concerned in the country. Although we share the same goals, desires and understandings, there may be differences in our approaches and methods under such abnormal political circumstances. Nevertheless, as members of this union, we will do our utmost to make sure that the process of building a federal democratic union, which is necessary to achieve lasting union peace, moves forward by prioritizing the interests of the union at some point.

Sent by IMNA.

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