Troops belonging to the military branch of the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) have left the Karenni State capital of Loikaw after causing a stir by entering the town carrying weapons in defiance of a government ban.
The Karenni Army (KA) troops were said to be in breach of the terms of a 2012 ceasefire agreement when they arrived in the outskirts of Loikaw on 2 May. They were accompanying other KNPP delegates who were in town for talks with the Burmese military.
Nyay Reh, coordinator of the KNPP’s liaison office in Loikaw, told DVB that the group was told to leave the area at a meeting with Burmese government and military officials on 13 May.
“We met with the Burmese army’s Regional Operations Command chief, the regional chief minister, and the border and security affairs minister on 13 May. They told us that our stance [to allow the troops in Loikaw] had been rejected by both the president and the military commander-in-chief. They said that they understand our position, but that we have to follow orders,” said Nyay Reh.
“We decided to be patient, and withdrew from the area as we do not want to negatively affect the ceasefire,” he said, adding that the Regional Operations Command chief had told the KNPP they were permitted to enter Loikaw with up to 30 unarmed troops.
The KA soldiers left the area on 15 May, withdrawing to its territory on the eastern bank of the Salween River.
The ceasefire in question limits KA operations to within its own territories and bans the carrying of weapons while traveling in government-controlled areas.