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KIA in combat readiness

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Under tremendous pressure from the Burmese military junta to transform to the Border Guard Force (BGF), the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) is in battle readiness in the event of a military onslaught by the Burmese Army.

The KIA is also recruiting soldiers and conducting military training.

The junta's chief negotiator on the BGF issue Military Affairs Security (MAS) Chief Lt. Gen. Ye Myint set a deadline for  February 28 for the  Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the political wing,  to respond to the thorny issue of conversion of its KIA. But KIO did not respond to this ultimatum.

The KIO, meanwhile is holding a crucial meeting at its party headquarters Laiza starting today. Present are leaders including 30 members of the Central Executive Committee (CEC), who are to decide on how to respond to the junta's demand.

"The meeting will decide on the transformation issue. They are deliberating on how to respond to the junta's demand," a KIO Central Committee (CC) member said. 

They are trying to resolve the crisis politically but at the same time are preparing for the worst, he added. 

"We are on standby on the west from Hukoung to the India border, in the east up to the China border, in the north our troops are on alert up to the Tibet border and in the south, we are ready  up to the border of Kachin State and Burma proper, " a KIA officer, who wished anonymity told Mizzima. 

KIO leaders  met the junta's delegation led by Lt. Gen. Ye Myint and Northern Command Commander Maj. Gen. Soe Win in Myitkyina on 29 January for the eleventh time to discuss the contentious BGF issue.

The KIO submitted a proposal to the junta saying they would like to transform their army into the Kachin Region Guard Force (KRGF) rather than the BGF along with other departments of theirs. They offered to surrender arms if the junta accepts 'equality of ethnic rights' enshrined in the historical 1947 Panlong Agreement.

The KIO formed a five-member committee with Vice-Chairman Gawri Zau Sai, General Secretary Dr. Laja, Col. Suanlut Guam Maw, Col. Laphai La and Capt. G Nau Ni to engage in direct negotiation with the junta on the BGF issue.

After signing the ceasefire agreement with the junta in 1994, the regime allowed KIO and KIA to operate in the north of Burma and control these areas.

The agreement allowed KIO to collect taxes and levies from local jade mines, gold mines and timber and logging business. The KIO built many infrastructure projects such as roads, generated electricity, besides building schools and opening clinics for the local people.

The junta has been applying tremendous pressure on all ceasefire groups to convert their armies into the BGF but the KIO, United Wa State Army (UWSA), Shan State Army-North (SSA-N), New Mon State Party (NMSP) and Shan State Special Region No. 4 or Mongla group are still refusing to accept the proposal.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 03 March 2010 14:00 )  

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