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No signs of UWSA compromising: Observers

New Delhi (Mizzima) - A Sino-Burmese border-based observer has rejected rumors that one of Burma’s strongest non-state armed groups – United Wa State Army (UWSA) – has agreed to transform its Army into a Border Guard Force (BGF), as proposed by the ruling junta.

Previous rumors circulating among Burmese observers suggested that the UWSA, which fields a strong Army of 25,000 troops, had agreed to the scheme after the junta persistently pressured the group into compliance.

“I heard that the Wa recently agreed to the Border Guard Force plan that the SPDC offered,” a source recently told Mizzima, referring to Burma’s ruling junta by its official name – State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).

The source also said the junta’s Triangle Region Commander, Major General Kyaw Phyo, used the threat of renewed hostilities as an instrumental component in winning over his counterparts.

However, a Sino-Burmese border based observer, Aung Kyaw Zaw, said there has so far been no such agreement reached with the UWSA, though not ruling out the possibility in the future.

“So far there is no such agreement. And there have been no high-level meetings in recent days between the UWSA and the junta. Tension is still high, with both sides reinforcing their troops,” Aung Kyaw Zaw said.

However, he commented that with several leaders of the UWSA, including Wei Hsueh-kang, Commander of the UWSA’s Southern Command, having enormous business interests, it is not impossible that an agreement will be reached.

“But even if the leaders might want to accept the offer, most of the lower and mid-level officials are unlikely to agree to it,” he added.

The UWSA and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) are among the few ethnic ceasefire armed groups that have rejected the ruling junta’s proposal to transform their armies into Border Guard Forces administered by the junta.

Burma’s military rulers have set the end of October as the deadline to respond to their proposal. Though there has been no clear indication of what will follow with the lapse of the deadline, several sources have witnessed the movement of Burmese troops to Northern and Eastern Shan State, potentially foreshadowing the onset of armed engagements.

Meanwhile, Sein Kyi, Assistant Editor of the Thailand-based Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN), who extensively covers Shan State and its ethnic rebels, said he is so far unaware of any such agreement by the UWSA to accept the junta’s proposal.

“From what I am being told by our sources in Panghsang (Wa capital), there is no such agreement to accept the Border Guard Force proposal,” Sein Kyi explained.

“Tension is still high between the two sides, and there are also no official meetings going on,” he added.

Following the junta’s attack on the Peng Jiasheng led Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) in August, observers speculated that the junta is likely to target other ceasefire groups, including the Mongla-based National Democratic Alliance Army – Eastern Shan State (NDAA-ESS), in a similar fashion.

But critics say the junta’s ultimate goal is to bring down the UWSA, as they are the strongest and pose a threat to their plan of transforming ceasefire armed groups into junta administered Border Guard Forces.

According to the junta’s plan, the transformation into Border Guard Forces needs to be completed prior to the general election in 2010.

But Aung Kyaw Zaw said history has revealed it is impossible to silence the aspirations of ethnic nationalities by suppressing them with force.

“Even if the leaders of the UWSA want to negotiate and accept the junta’s proposal, the Wa are likely to come up with another name and continue their resistance. It will be impossible to silence them,” he added.

The UWSA, led by Bao Youxiang, broke away from the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) in 1989, the same year signing a peace agreement with the junta’s then military intelligence chief, Khin Nyunt.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 28 October 2009 11:35 )  

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