Contact: Roland Watson, roland@dictatorwatch.org


February 12, 2017

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There is new intel about the upcoming Karen Congress.

Chairman Mutu Say Poe and General Secretary Kwe Htoo Win are not in a position to postpone the Congress again. It is set to begin on March 14th.

The Congress will be a battle between their corrupt faction and the honest, loyal realists led by Naw Zipporah Sein. The challenge will be to get more realists elected to the Central Committee, and then to the top posts and the Executive Committee.

There will not be religious leaders in attendance, which means among other things that Pastor Robert Htwe will not be an election official. There is a much lower chance that there will be election fraud this time, as occurred four years ago.

The Congress will follow Suu Kyi's UPC, set to start on February 28th, and which will no doubt fail. It will be another useless talk fest, and at this point it is unlikely that the NCA non-signatories will attend.

This failure will put Mutu on the defensive, since the argument for the initial Congress postponement was to push the date past the UPC. Also to his detriment is that the Burma Army has continued its aggression in the North and West. It clearly does not want peace. (The dictatorship's long-standing strategy is to buy more and more time - to postpone any loss of its power. Its goal now is to maintain control for the next decade or so - for the remaining years that its ally, Suu Kyi, is alive.)

Mutu and Kwe Htoo have gained support with money that originated in Europe. But EBO, which - while not directly transferring funds - was a big motivator of their "leadership," has reportedly been sidelined. They have lost their intermediaries to Europe.

Furthermore, the rumor is that Mutu will keep the money that he has. He owns a gas station in Thailand, which was recently rebuilt at great expense. He is likely in debt because of this, and will use his money to pay down the debt, not to buy support at the Congress.

Nonetheless, he could still get money from Thai businesspeople, because if the leadership of the KNU changes this will end the prospects for the Dawei super-development, mirroring what has happened with the Myitsone Dam.

So, the stage is set. We need Karen people and Karen CSOs to lobby the Congress delegates to do the right thing, so that new leadership is installed and the Karen Revolution survives. With the UPC being held in two weeks and then the Congress two weeks after that, we are entering a critical period not only for the Karen but for all of Burma. If you personally can do anything to influence the Congress outcome - anything at all, even just sending an email or making a call - please do it.