Monday, 18 November 2019

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UWSP thwarts rival party canvassing in Wa-controlled special region

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The United Wa State Party is refusing to let political parties with close ties to the Burmese ruling junta to carry out party organisational work ahead of this year’s national elections in areas under its control, observers yesterday.
The Wa Democratic and Wa National Unity parties sought permission from the United Wa State Party (UWSP) to conduct party organisational work in Panshang, Mengmawm, Panwai and Naphang townships but senior UWSP leaders rejected their request.

“UWSP did not allow these parties to conduct their canvassing works in their controlled area. They just replied that they could not yet allow to do these works when contacted these Wa leaders”, Sein Kyi, editor of the Shan Herald Agency for News, told Mizzima.

spdc-uwsp-areaThe 20,000-strong UWSP army has five battalions deployed along the Thai-Burmese border and three battalions on Sino-Burmese border. The junta has demanded that the Wa army bring its forces under its command within the so-called Border Guard Force (BGF) and contest in upcoming general elections, but the Wa party, in line with its long-time goal of autonomy for the unofficial state within Northern Shan State, rejected the order.

The UWSP reached a ceasefire agreement with junta in 1990 and the regime granted them a Special Administrative Region but two other townships mainly inhabited by Wa, Hopan and Pan Yang, were left out of the area. Four townships lie within the special zone.

Observers said it was unlikely that this UWSP-controlled area would be included in the junta’s electoral process.

Lope Paung, a senior leader of the junta-allied Wa National Unity Party (WNUP), which accepts inclusion in the junta’s Burmese union, refused to answer questions over whether the UWSP ban on WNUP canvassing work was design to avoid a head-on collision between the rivals.

“We can’t get to the mountainous areas this monsoon season. We recruited the minimum requirement of 500 new party members in urban areas and [their names] had been sent to Naypyidaw,” Lope Paung said. “We are organising people with close links to us and can’t yet get in to the mountains as there are difficulties in road transport.”

The Wa Democratic Party and UWSP, well know for their drug production and trafficking activities, were unavailable for comment, but both parties based in Lashio would contest mainly in Lashio, Hopan, Tarsan, Taungyinwa townships, they announced.

“Both parties are puppets and compradors of the Burmese military regime”, Aung Kyaw Zaw, an analyst based along the Sino-Burmese border, said.

A source from Naypyidaw has told Mizzima that the areas controlled by ethnic nationalities that have rejected the junta’s BGF demand will be omitted from the electoral process for the upcoming polls. Holding elections in the Wa area was in doubt, the source added.

Naypyidaw wanted the UWSP to register with the junta’s electoral watchdog, the Union Election Commission, and stand in the elections but the party had refused, observers said.

Tension was rising between the two armies. The 318th Brigade of the party’s United Wa State Army and junta forces exchanged fire on July 17 in Panlong and Hopan on the east bank of the Salween River in Northern Shan State, near the Sino-Burmese border. The clash killed Wa soldier, military observers said.


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