In Jan. 2019, the Burma Army finished building new bases in four townships in Karenni State, even though the military had previously initiated a unilateral four-month ceasefire that included Karenni State. Burma Army officials also failed to notify the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) about the construction, despite have a longstanding agreement to notify them of construction in areas where the KNPP is active. The construction also violates the National Ceasefire Agreement between the Burma Army and ethnic groups that includes the KNPP. Historically, the building and supplying of bases has served as an indicator the Burma Army is getting ready to attack ethnic populations.
Other projects, such as building a statue of General Aung San in Loikaw in February, have also resulted in increased tension between the state government and local population. For many in Karenni State, the statue symbolizes unmet promises of ethnic inclusion amidst a Burmese-dominated national government.
In August, the Loikaw Township Court charged six Karenni youth with slander, for statements against state leaders calling them traitors to the Karenni people for supporting the statue. The statements also accused the government of using road and telecommunications funding for the statue instead of for improving state infrastructure. In early November 2019, the six youths were sentenced to six months in prison, including hard labor.
Poverty continues to be a problem in Karenni State. Rich in natural resources, locals work in dangerous mining conditions throughout the state and receive little pay in return for their labor. Mine workers have to give what they mine to companies that work for the Burma government, who then sells resources, like uranium, to China.