President Thein Sein Government declared an end to its military offensive against the Kachin Independence Army on January 18 since the US and the EU have described their concerns. The ceasefire order of the President was to be effective from 6am on January 19.

Speaking at the opening of the First Myanmar Development Cooperation Forum in Nay-Pyi-Taw on January 19, President U Thein Sein reaffirmed his previous bid for peace negotiations with the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO).

“We have extended an invitation to the KIO to join the peace meeting. I want to invite my colleagues from KIO to come to the peace meeting from here on again. I believe KIO will soon join us in the peace process. I have ordered the Tatmadaw (Burma Army) and other relevant government agencies to seek a peaceful solution to the conflict. I want to note that KIO will need to reciprocate in a similar way,” Thein Sein told hundreds of domestic and foreign delegates at the forum.

However, KIA said government forces continue to pound rebel positions despite President Thein Sein’s announcement of a unilateral ceasefire last week, according to Radio Free Asia (Burmese Service).

KIO/KIA said severe assaults on their locations have carried on since after that, including a bomb that fell in downtown Laiza on Wednesday. On Thursday, rebels said the Kha Ya Bum hill near Laiza was pounded by government troops.

File image of KIA soldiers in Kachin State Burma-Myanmar.(AP Photo - Khin Maung Win)

Meanwhile on Thursday National Parliament, U Win Naung of the Yangon Region Constituency No (5) seconded the proposal of U Khet Htein Nam from Kachin State Constituency No (1) that advised the Union government to take on firm principles which help create reciprocal understanding to build domestic peace, The New Light of Myanmar said Friday.

Win Naung called for negotiation between the representatives of two sides at the peacemaking-table to start peace within the country. He expressed his concerns for current troubles of Kachin State where there was no schooling and no business due to daily combat.

Military appointed-parliamentarian Col Aung Kyaw said all the previous peace talks between the government and KIO/KIA were unproductive as a consequence of the latter’s focus mainly on ‘political dialogue’ rather than expected ‘ceasefire’.  He also said that the government has arranged shelter for 32,434 internally displaced persons in 11 townships and sub-townships in Kachin State, according to the state-owned newspaper.

The humanitarian assistance in the form of cash and kind from the President, Kachin State government, Ministry of Border Affairs, Relief and Resettlement Department, government departments, social organizations, Red Cross Society, and parliamentarians amounted to Kyats 6, 737, 476, 797  referring Col Aung Kyaw the NLM newspaper said.

Furthermore, Col Aung Kyaw mentioned ‘Section 339 of the Constitution’ that, “The Defence Services shall lead in safeguarding the Union against all internal and external dangers.” Thus, Tatmadaw (Military) protects the people from attacks of KIO/ KIA is in compliance with the Constitution, concluded Col Aung Kyaw.

However, the civilians in Kachin State do not see government soldiers as their protectors, as said by the media reports. Instead, people see them as bands of robbers, who committed looting, torturing, killing during their operations in far-off Kachin villages.

The key question between the government and the KIO/KIA is on ‘political dialogue’. Col Aung Kyaw’s voice in the parliament highlights that his government wants to delay the ‘political dialogue’ and just focus on ‘ceasefire’ which KIO says is unnecessary.

In fact, the government armed forces have unreasonably violated the 1994 ceasefire agreement and invaded Kachin territory by force. Then, the government deployed more infantry units in Kachin region and refused to pull out even though have been constant calls from KIO and local residents.

If government troops moved back up to the 1994 ceasefire line, it means reinstatement of the ceasefire treaty. Then, the government should go ahead with ‘political dialogue’ in favor of long-lasting internal peace.

Moreover, the government ‘ceasefire first’ policy looks like a new tactic inducing surrender in some way.

The KIO has no satisfactory option to accept the government’s ‘ceasefire first policy’ which is devoid of any political discussion.

In hopes of setting up political dialogue, the KIO signed a ceasefire agreement with the previous military regime on February 24, 1994 and even supported the military-favored 2008 constitution.

No political dialogue has occurred during the 17-year ceasefire period and the KIO were intimidated to remove weapons and transform into the Burmese Army-controlled Border Guard Force (BGF) before the November 7 election in 2010.

The KIO cast off the BGF plan, saying it cannot accept transformation of its armed wing.

Talks between the KIO and the Burmese government were also aborted in 1963, 1972, and 1980 respectively; though, they all failed to get to the bottom of the political standoff between the two sides.