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Karenni New Year has been openly celebrated inside Burma for the first time in recent history.
Residents of Demoso Township in Karenni State joined representatives from the Burmese government, as well as Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) members in an official ceremony on Tuesday.
Traditional song and dance accompanied prayers and political speeches.
In the past, celebrations were limited to territories in eastern Burma held by the KNPP or at Karenni refugee camps on the Thai side of the border.
However this year’s celebration was approved by the government as per the terms of their initial ceasefire agreement with the KNPP, said the party’s deputy-chair, Khoo Oo Rah.
“The agreements we have for the ceasefire include cooperation with the Karenni State government on national activities, including organising events. We can now start celebrating New Year and grow closer to our people,” said Khoo Oo Rah.
Late last year, the KNPP signed a 13-point deal with the Burmese government in advance of a nationwide ceasefire pact, which continues to be discussed. That deal featured the introduction of resettlement programs for Karenni IDPs, de-mining projects and future development programs, such as the installation of electricity networks in the state.
Importantly, that deal has now paved the way for the reclamation of social and cultural aspects of Karenni life, such as New Year celebrations, previously impossible in a state of conflict with the regime.