Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), asked permission on Monday from the Burmese government and the country's Union Election Commission (EC) to engage in talks with the rebel Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) over security conditions in the northern state.
The move follows the postponement of polling at the upcoming by-election in three constituencies in Kachin State due to security concerns.
“We want to negotiate with the KIO and would like the government or the EC to help with this,” said the NLD statement. “We believe that it is possible to run elections in the three constituencies.”
Burma’s state-run television broadcast an announcement on Friday by the EC saying that voting for the three vacant seats in Kachin State—Phakant, Moe Kaung and Ba Maw—was being postponed because “security conditions are not conducive to conducting a free and fair by-election.”
It said voting would be held when security conditions had improved.
Asked for a comment in response to the NLD statement, KIO spokesman La Nan told The Irrawaddy: “We will open our door to meet any group for talks about the rights of people and the political situation in Burma. We condemn what the government said, and deny that the election must be postponed because of the KIO.
“During the 2010 and 1990 elections, the KIO did not interrupt the process,” he said.
“There is no fighting in the constituencies in question,” he added. “Only in rural areas.”
Tu Ja, an independent candidate listed to run in Moe Kaung Township, echoed the KIO's position that it was safe to hold elections in the three townships.
“I felt sad when I heard they postponed the election,” he said. “I spent a lot of my time campaigning and I have won over many supporters. I wanted the government to hold the election in our township.”