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Myanmar's Karen ethnic rebels urge West to 'wait for more reforms' before easing sanctions

Rangoon , Sat, 14 Apr 2012 ANI
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Rangoon, Apr 14 (ANI): One of Myanmar's key ethnic insurgent groups, Karen National Union, has reportedly urged the international community to wait for more political reforms and a national cease-fire before easing long-standing sanctions against the country.

"The international community should not rush too fast into lifting sanctions. They should wait a little bit," The Wall Street Journal quoted the group's general secretary said Zipporah Sein, as saying.

Last week, the possibility of an end to the long-running ethnic conflict between the Karen group and Myanmar's government seemed within reach as leaders of the group met with President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Zipporah Sein, however, stressed that this is just 'the first step' forward, and that the government still 'needs to go further' to prove its commitment to a lasting peace process.

In a statement released Sunday, officials from the Karen group said Thein Sein had affirmed his commitment to removing the KNU from a list of outlawed organizations.

According to the paper, Zipporah Sein said subsequent meetings with the government centered on formulating a 'code of conduct' for a cease-fire and its implementation, including how the Myanmar military, accused of systematic campaigns of torture and rape, should treat ethnic minority civilians.

"We need to see if they follow the code of conduct well. We want to go slowly [through the peace process], but effectively," the paper quoted her, as saying.

According to the paper, Zipporah Sein said she has been encouraged by the seriousness of peace talks so far, and added that 'economic development is key' for Myanmar's government.

"The president believes there should be peace and the country should be developed. Unless there is a cease-fire, they know the country won't get developed," she said.

Zipporah Sein also said that many within the Karen group are concerned that despite the peace talks, forced labor and other forms of oppression will remain. (ANI)

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