Myanmar rebel leader says both sides want peace
BANGKOK: The ageing guerrilla leader of Myanmar’s biggest rebel group said on Saturday he had agreed to end a decades-old war with the country’s military rulers because both sides wanted peace.
General Bo Mya, who led the Karen National Union (KNU) into landmark peace talks in Yangon last week, said the meeting was a “good foundation” for further talks.
“What we agreed was not to fight each other and to see peace in Burma,” Bo Mya, 77, told Reuters in an interview in Bangkok before heading back to a KNU camp along the Thai-Myanmar border.
The KNU, which has battled Yangon in pursuit of autonomy for the Karen people since 1949, a year after what was then called Burma became independent of Britain, agreed to stop fighting in December but never signed a ceasefire deal.
KNU officials say both sides had reached a verbal agreement on a ceasefire and would meet later to finalise a formal document.
“The meeting this time with the SPDC was a very good foundation because they did not have any preconditions like in previous meetings,” Bo Mya said in reference to the junta’s formal name, the State Peace and Development Council.
The government has signed peace and cooperation deals with 17 rebel groups since 1989. But six rounds of talks with the KNU ended in failure, the last in 1996 when each side blamed the other for the collapse.
The portly Bo Mya, wearing a black beret and army boots with a cane at his side, said he had a good rapport with Prime Minister Khin Nyunt, a former chief of military intelligence.
Khin Nyunt hosted a birthday party for Bo Mya last week at which the junta leader wore a Karen shirt.
“We had a very good relationship and he is like my nephew and he called me uncle, just like from the same family. We got together, working for peace, working for unity and tranquillity in the country,” Bo Mya said. —Reuters