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Changes at the top as KIO chairman retires

Gen N’Ban La, right, has succeeded Lanyaw Zawng Hra, left, as chairman of the Kachin Independence Organisation.

The Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) on Tuesday held a ceremony in Laiza, Kachin State, to mark the retirement of its now former chairman and appointment of his successor.

General N’Ban La has taken the helm of the organisation, with the aging Lanyaw Zawng Hra officially ceding the chairmanship this week in Laiza, the ethnic armed group’s headquarters.

“The chairman handed over his position considering his health condition. There is no change in terms of policy,” KIO spokesperson Naw Bo told DVB.

N’Ban La succeeds Lanyaw Zawng Hra to become the sixth chairperson of the KIO. As part of a broader leadership reshuffle, Lieutenant-General Gam Shawng has taken up the role of deputy KIO chairman.

General Gun Maw and General Sumlut Gam were appointed as joint deputy chairs of the Kachin Independence Council, which along with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) forms a kind of triumvirate that lays claim to governing and fighting on behalf of ethnic Kachin aspirations for greater autonomy in Burma’s north.

It is a region beset by conflict since a 17-year ceasefire between the government and the KIA broke down in 2011, displacing some 100,000 civilians over the years since.

The KIA is not a signatory to the so-called Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, an accord inked among representatives of the previous government, military and eight non-state armed groups in October 2015.

The Burma Army, also known as the Tatmadaw, reportedly renewed hostilities near Laiza late last month.