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KNU set to wrap up Congress, elect leadership

Members of the Karen National Union are meeting in Lawkheela, Karen State, for their 16th Congress.

Attendees of the Karen National Union’s 16th Congress are scheduled today to conclude discussions on the ethnic armed group’s plans for the future, with leadership elections due to be held on Wednesday, a KNU central committee member told DVB.

Committee member Pado Saw Thamein Tun said planning would cover the next four years, when the KNU Congress will be reconvened. As of Tuesday morning, some outstanding issues remained to be discussed.

“We still need to discuss a lot regarding future plans, such as strengthening the KNU, Karen national unity, … cooperation of ethnic armed revolutionary groups,” he said, among other items on Tuesday’s agenda.

Additionally, Congress attendees need to approve the KNU’s economic and development programmes, policies on refugees and internally displaced persons, and other matters related to the peace process.

On Wednesday the KNU is expected to hold elections for the organisation’s chair and vice chair, as well as for 55 seats on its central committee. The current KNU chair, Mutu Say Poe, has said he is open to serving for a second four-year term if that is the will of the membership.

At its last Congress, in 2012, the KNU elected 45 central committee members, with an agreement to expand the committee to 55 members at the current Congress. Among the central committee’s 55 members, at least three must be women.

The 16th KNU Congress began on March 14 at the KNU’s Lawkheela headquarters in Karen State. Central committee members say they are trying to conclude the Congress this week.