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The Karen National Union (KNU) commenced the group’s 15th Congress in Karen state’s Hpa-an district on 26 November, while the group’s aging chairman is set to step down.
The KNU current chairman Tamla Baw, 93, announced he would be no longer serve in the group’s leadership due to old age, according to a KNU Central Committee member.
More than 200 KNU members and observers are set to attend the two week congress, where the group will appoint new leaders.
The KNU’s armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), current Commander-in-Chief Mutu Say Poe is tipped to become the new KNU chairman, while the KNLA brigade 5’s commander Brigadier General Baw Kyaw Hae and brigade 7 commander Brigadier General Johnny are said to be in contention for filling the KNLA’s commander-in-chief position.
The KNU’s congress comes after months of tumultuous infighting within the group. In early October, the group dismissed three senior rebel leaders for opening an unauthorised liaison office with the Burmese government in Hpa-an. KNLA Commander-in-Chief Mutu Say Poe and central executive committee members Roger Khin and the now deceased David Htaw were removed from the group before being reinstated later in the month.
After 60 years of armed struggle, the KNU signed a historic ceasefire with the government in early January.