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Former Mon party members yield arms

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – A Mon group comprising former New Mon State Party members relinquished their arms and ammunition to junta troops on Tuesday, a state-run newspaper reported.

nmspThe Mon Peace Group led by Naing Shaung, and an unknown number of followers, surrendered their weapons to Southeastern Command chief Brigadier General Tun Nay Lin, with the stated goal of competing in Burma’s first national elections in 20 years on November 7, the New Light of Myanmar reported.

Naing Shaung, in his 70s, was an NMSP battalion commander who retired at the rank of colonel, according to current NMSP military adviser Nai Kaorot. 

The newspaper report failed to give the number of Mon Peace Group members, their ammunition and or equipment, but observers from the New Mon State Party said that only about 10 of those surrendering had participated in the “armed revolution” and that the rest were there “just for show”.

Local residents said the Mon Peace Group would set up headquarters in Korkyakkha village, home to substantial Mon population, in Hpaan Township, Karen State.

The group handed over arms and ammunition just a week after the New Mon State Party had urged the public to boycott the junta’s forthcoming election.

The NMSP said that the 2008 constitution could not guarantee ethnic rights and urged the people to boycott the election. 

Naing Shaung and his followers accepted rice, cooking oil, household items and money from Major General Thet Naing Win, Bureau of Special Operations Four, which oversees the Southeastern and Coastal commands. He is the former Southeastern regional commander. 

Electoral rivals to the Mon Peace Group in Hpaan Township are the All Mon Region Democracy Party, the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party, and Phalon-Sawaw (Pwo-Sgaw) Democratic Party.

After Naing Shaung retired from the New Mon State Party, he formed a militia known as the Yamanya Force to continue armed struggle against the junta. When the militia dissolved, he worked as the vice-chairman of the Mon Peace Group led by Major General Naing Aung Naing until the latter died this year. Naing Shaung then took over as chairman of the group that was formed in 2008.

Late last month, the NMSP ordered its soldiers to open fire on junta troops if they intruded into areas under its control, Mon military adviser Colonel Kaung Yuk (retired) said.

The junta has exerted increasing pressure of various kinds on the NMSP’s 7,000-strong armed wing, the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA), to bring its troops under junta command within the Burmese Army’s Border Guard Forces (BGF). It has also brought its powers of persuasion to bear on local people’s militia outside the terms of the ceasefire agreement reached with the junta in 1995. However, the NMSP has defied the junta’s pressure and ultimatums.

Early last month, Thet Naing Win threatened the NMSP that its troops would be regarded as insurgents if they failed to surrender their arms.

But the NMSP has continued to reject all junta pressure and responded that they would like to resolve political issues only through political means and would continue negotiations with the new government after November 7.

The junta answered by imposing tight restrictions on NMSP movement, ordering them to report itineraries in advance, a move that had also spurred the shoot-on-sight order, on suspicion of the junta’s military objectives, the retired Mon colonel said.

Only district committee members and office assistants remained at the NMSP’s Moulmein liaison offices and the rest had been withdrawn, he said late last month. 

Last Updated ( Friday, 29 October 2010 02:06 )  

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