Myanmar`s Karen rebels say ceasefire `fragile`

Last Updated: Saturday, February 4, 2012 - 22:18

Bangkok: One of Myanmar`s most prominent
rebel groups on Saturday warned a ceasefire deal seen as a
breakthrough in relations with the regime was "fragile", as
ethnic unrest continues to cast a shadow over reforms.

The Karen National Union (KNU) signed a pact with a
delegation of ministers from the new government on January 12
in a move that raised hopes of a permanent end to one of the
world`s longest-running civil conflicts.

"We have to make the ceasefire durable. This is a
tentative step and still very fragile," said Saw David
Tharckabaw, vice-president of the KNU in charge of foreign
affairs.

He said charges against a senior rebel figure and
continuing conflict in other ethnic areas was eroding trust in
Myanmar`s nominally-civilian government, which has launched a
series of changes that have persuaded some Western powers to
re-evaluate tough sanctions on the country.

The KNU`s Mahn Nyein Maung is facing trial for treason
-- for which the maximum penalty is death -- despite
assurances from the government`s top negotiator that he would
be freed, according to Saw David Tharckabaw.

"Not much is changing so the government can`t keep its
promises... that is not good for us to continue trust
building," he said.

"Some countries say there is a great change, real
change, but we have to see proof on the ground, we cannot rely
on promises."

Civil war has gripped parts of Myanmar since its
independence in 1948, and an end to the conflicts is a key
demand of the international community.

Tentative peace deals have been linked with several
rebel groups, but fighting in Kachin has caused uncertainty
about the progress of the reconciliation effort.

Citing reforms, the United States announced plans to
exchange ambassadors with Myanmar soon after the KNU ceasefire
and a major release of political prisoners in January.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, February 4, 2012 - 22:18

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