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Uneasy calm prevails between junta and ceasefire groups


New Delhi (Mizzima) - Despite the refusal of armed ceasefire groups to favorably respond to the junta’s proposal to transform their armies into Border Guard Forces, the situation is tense but calm, according to observers.

Aung Kyaw Zaw, a Sino-Burmese border-based military analyst, told Mizzima on Tuesday that though there are no visible tensions between the junta and armed ceasefire groups, the junta continues to secretly prepare for their next move.

“They [junta] is currently silent. They are rethinking their strategy on how to break the ceasefire groups as it is not as easy as they initially thought,” Aung Kyaw Zaw speculated.

Burma’s military rulers, in April 2009, proposed that all seventeen armed ceasefire groups transform their armies into Border Guard Forces administered by the junta.
khin-nyunt-pao-yu-chang
Ousted prime minister Khin Nyunt and UWSA supreme leader
Pau Yu Chang


Though a few groups including the New Democratic Army – Kachin (NDA-K) accepted the proposal, bigger armed groups such as the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) have rejected the proposal, leaving the junta’s plan stalled.

The junta earlier set a deadline of October 2009 for all ceasefire groups to make the necessary change, but following the rejection of numerous groups were forced to extend the deadline to the end of 2009.

“They [junta]…are taking time to rethink their strategy as they know they cannot just use brute force to attack the groups,” Aung Kyaw Zaw said.

Despite the deadline having expired, the situation between the junta and armed ceasefire groups, according to Sein Kyi, editor of the Thailand-based Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN), is calm with no signs of enhanced security from any of the actors.

“I don’t think the junta is giving up but it seems to me that they are stepping back in order to take a step ahead,” Sein Kyi said.

He said though the junta might not conduct a major military campaign against the ceasefire groups, the junta’s most obvious strategy will be to try and separate the groups so they can more easily be won over.

In August of last year, Burmese troops attacked the Peng Jiasheng-led Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), also known as the Kokang Army, after successfully dividing the group into two – a Peng Jiasheng-led faction and a Bai Souqian-led faction.

The junta then promoted Bai Souqian as the new leader for Kokang and termed Peng and his group fugitives. Observers said the incident was a typical Burmese junta tactic to bring down ethnic armed groups.

Following the incident, the junta was reported to be moving a number of its troops near UWSA controlled territory in northern Shan State, providing speculation that a massive war between the junta’s troops and the UWSA, the largest armed ceasefire group, would soon break out.

However, despite the preparations for war by both sides and the Border Guard Force issue left unresolved, the junta has not shown any signs of a military campaign against the UWSA or other ceasefire groups, Sein Kyi said.

“I think it is unlikely the junta will launch intensive attacks on armed ceasefire groups, as they are busy preparing for the 2010 general election. And they might want to deal with the ceasefire groups later, after they have completed forming a new government,” he added.

Similarly, Naw Din, editor of the Thailand-based Kachin News Group, said though the KIO has refused the junta’s Border Guard Force proposal, there are no signs of any impending war between the two.

“A military campaign would be the last option for the junta, as they are now busy preparing for the election. I think the junta wants to shelf it for later,” Naw Din explained.

But the junta is definitely not giving up on the ceasefire groups and will sooner or later resume tactics directed at imposing their authority, he added.

But on the other side, he continued, it will be difficult for armed ceasefire groups, particularly the KIO, to accept the proposal, as it would mean giving up on the cause of their decades-old struggle.

The junta’s proposal of a Border Guard Force would have 326 soldiers per battalion, including 30 Burmese soldiers, and would fall under the administration of the Burmese Army, with all remuneration for troops paid by the central government.

Editing by Mungpi

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 January 2010 18:00 )  

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