Monday, 18 November 2019

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Top brass arrive in Naypyidaw for quarterly meeting


New Dehli (Mizzima) – Top-ranking military officers gathered in the secluded Burmese capital of Naypyidaw yesterday for the junta’s key three-day quarterly meeting, which was to start today at the office of the army commander in chief, a source close to the military said.  

The meeting, which usually takes decisions on military assignments and reshuffles will reportedly be attended by State Peace and Development Council members including junta leader Senior General Than Shwe. Bureau of special operations (BSO) commanders, military operations command (Sa Ka Kha) chiefs, regional operations command (Da Ka Sa) heads, infantry division commanders, directors of military directorates and military academy principals also usually attend. Moreover, the prime minister and other cabinet ministers are usually invited.   

All departments and ministries submit reports to the meeting and receive directives from junta leaders.  

The army commander in chief, deputy commander in chief, BSOs from the war office, Sa Ka Kha commanders and all regional military commanders usually hold a separate closed-door meeting, which should happen before the weekend. Members of the cabinet hold a similar gathering.  

Aung Kyaw Zaw, an analyst on the Burmese military, based on the Sino-Burmese border, told Mizzima that plans detailed at the main meeting could be directives to all military regional commanders on winning this year’s elections.  

He speculated that “the meeting could be used to nominate the military representatives who will comprise 25 per cent of military seats [set out in the junta’s electoral laws] in the proposed upper and lower houses of parliament and the lists could be announced soon”.    

Critics of the military said the junta meeting was also a venue for subordinates to pass gifts to their superiors in the hope of currying favour and gaining promotions.  

The SPDC’s quarterly meetings are usually held in January, May and September, but the meetings are frequently postponed without apparent reason. The last top-brass meeting was held from November 23 to 28 last year.  

Since that meeting, some major political changes have emerged, such as promulgation of election laws, resignations of several cabinet members from military posts and the founding of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), made up of the military officers who resigned.   

An executive member of Network for Democracy and Development (NDD) based in Mae Sot, Thailand, near the Burmese border, speculated that the meeting could discuss the issue of the junta’s Border Guard Force.  

Ahead of the Naypyidaw meeting, Burma’s commanders have made numerous attempts to persuade or coerce ethnic ceasefire groups to join the force under the command of the Burmese army, using talks, ultimatums or military build-ups around areas under the groups’ control. The talks involved several groups, including the United Wa State Army and the Kachin Independence Organisation. In most cases, the groups rejected the plan.  

“They [officials at the Naypyidaw meeting] could discuss the Border Guard Force issue, but we should wait and see what develops since Chinese Prime Minister [Premier Wen Jiabao] will soon visit Burma,” the NDD executive member said. “I don’t think there will be major changes [before then]”.  

Analysts said the meeting could be the last of the year as the third-quarter meeting scheduled in September may coincide with the junta’s proposed polls.

 

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