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BURMA: War looms as junta sets latest deadline

March 9, 2010

The following article is reprinted with permission from Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N.), Chiang Mai, Thailand.

War looms as junta sets latest deadline
©  S.H.A.N.
March 9, 2010

According to Chinese officials brokering between the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the Burma Army, the latter has set 15 March as the date for the former to give its response to the latter’s Border Guard Force (BGF) program, say ceasefire sources.

The Chinese officials told the Wa leaders, they had received a letter from Lt-Gen Ye Myint, chief of Military Affairs Security (MAP), on 1 March. It required the Wa:

  ·  To pull out their forces from Mongpawk and the Thai-Burma border (areas outside the Wa Self Administered Division as designated by the 2008 constitution)

  ·  To agree to the BGF program by 10 March

  ·  To expect use of force combined with declaration of the UWSA as an “unlawful organization” if the Wa continue to oppose the program by 15 March

China had counseled utmost tact “to the last minute,” according to a source close to the leadership, “because we don’t want war.” It had already deployed thousands of People’s Liberation Army troops on the Sino-Burma border.

“We told the Chinese we have struggled for more than 30 years for our rights,” he recalled. “What little rights we now enjoy will no longer remain if we agree totally (to the program).”

The 9 point counter proposal by the Wa accepted the BGF program “in principle” but disallowed Burma Army officers from running UWSA troops at the battalion level.

The Wa commander who a few days earlier, said that “there is little likelihood of war” now says “the likelihood has increased to 80%.”

Reports behind the front appear to support his assessment. Apart from Light Infantry Divisions (LID) 33, 55 and 99 already placed along the front, troops from LID 77, based in Pegu, south of Naypyitaw, were recently reported moving in the direction of Kunlong, Mongyaw-Ta Hsaileng and Tangyan, towns on the Salween that roughly serves as a boundary between the Wa and the Burma Army.

The UWSA has already ordered its troops to shoot once “hostile forces” cross the boundary.

The Burma Army is also building an all-weather road from Monghsu to Ta Weun Nawng, where its forces are facing the UWSA’s 418th Division just southwest of the Wa capital Panghsang.

Meanwhile, the Wa’s western ally the Shan State Army (SSA) North’s commander in chief Maj-Gen Loimao was reported to have held the latest meeting with the Burma Army’s Northeastern Region Command Commander Maj Gen Aung Than Tut on 4 March. No details have yet to be disclosed but the group, after transformation into a militia force, would have reportedly to move its main base from Hseng-Keow in Hsipaw township, to Wanhai in Kehsi township. The SSA has yet to give a definite response.

No further reports from the UWSA’s southern ally the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) is forthcoming. SHAN source however confirmed, “After the bipartite meeting on 2-4 March, we have further cemented our alliance.”

The Burma Army, before holding its promised free and fair elections late in the year, has been putting in all its efforts to force the ceasefire armies, particularly the UWSA, to accept the BGF program aimed at placing all armed groups under its wings. The groups however say they will continue to remain independent until their right of autonomy, guaranteed by the 1947 Panglong Agreement, is recognized by Naypyitaw.

[End.]

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