Some invited ethnic armed groups unsure to attend Independence Day anniversary

Myanmar government has invited leaders of 16 ethnic armed groups to attend the 67th anniversary Independence Day ceremony and grand military review parade to be held in Nay Pyi Taw on January 4, but some are not sure whether they will attend or not. 

When contacted by the Daily Eleven on Friday, leaders from the Karen National Union (KNU), Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA), Pao National Libration Organisation (PNLO) and Shan State Progressive Party-Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) said they would attend the event. However, the leaders from Karanni  National Progressive Party (KNPP) and Palaung State Liberation Front/Ta'ang National Liberation Army (PSLF/TNLA) are reported unsure about their attendance.  

Kachin Independence Organisation/Kachin Independence Army (KIO/KIA) which has engaged clashes with government troops frequently is also not sure whether it  will attend the event or not. 

Fourteen ethnic armed groups were first invited to attend the ceremony, but later two more groups— KIO and TNLA that have yet to make ceasefire with the government—were invited. 

When contacted, Colonel Khun Naung form KIO said, “I am not in a position to reply. You’d better ask La Nan (KIO’s spokesperson). However, La Nan could not be reached for information. 

TNLA vice chairman Tar Gyok Gyar said the invitation was received only on Friday and a meeting was to be called. He however said they are most unlikely to attend the event because some are already away on trips. 

KNPP vice chairman Khu Oo Yal said: “Two persons have been invited. One is on a trip. I heard the other cannot attend it. As they (the government) invited us by name, any replacement is not possible.”

KNU’s CEC member Pado Mann Nyein Maung said the chairman, general secretary and chief of staff would be present on the occasion. 

Two representatives from RCSS/SSA, including spokesperson Colonel Sai La are scheduled to attend the Independence Day parade. 

For PNLO, its chairman Khun Myint Tun and patron Colonel Khun Oakka are due to attend the event. 

“I will attend it. Col. Khun Oakka is most likely to attend it. I could not contact him. He is still in Thailand,” said Khun Myint Tun.

On Thursday, Khun Oakka said there will be a meeting of President Thein Sein, military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and leaders of the ethnic armed groups after the Independence Day parade. Such a meeting will be important in terms of politics and peace in the country.