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North command tells KIO to close liaison offices


Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Burmese Army’s Northern Command has ordered the Kachin Independence Organisation to close its 16-year-old liaison offices, a liaison officer says.

After the ceasefire agreement was reached between the regime and the KIO in 1994, the latter opened 22 liaison offices in Kachin and Shan States with consent of the former at which policy matters were discussed.

central-liaison-officeMilitary Affairs Security officer Lieutenant Colonel Thet Pone from the command’s base in Kachin State capital Myitkyina last week called the ethnic Kachin armed ceasefire group’s main liaison office in the city and told its staff to close all such offices in Kachin and Shan states, the KIO liaison officer told Mizzima.

“Closing the liaison offices suggests we don’t need to deal with them [junta officials or military] any more. So we shall close them all. It suggests the junta has withdrawn from the ceasefire agreement reached between us,” the KIO officer said.

“After the ceasefire, we set up a liaison office at each battalion headed by an officer at the rank of battalion commander … we’d had incidents in which we arrested each other so we opened these offices to deal with such problems. Now the election has been conducted and they [the military] have to transfer power to a new government. So I think they [the KIO] withdraw all these offices lest they are exposed to the new military regime,” he said.

Prior to establishment of the offices, there were also firefights between the two sides, the liaison officer added.

The KIO at a central committee meeting on Saturday resolved to close the nine offices in Kachin State and two in Shan State. Instructions had already been passed to the offices to close, a KIO spokesman said.

The Kachin ethnic group rejected junta demands to bring its Kachin Independence Army (KIA) under Burmese Army control within its Border Guard Force (BGF) and it had yet to meet recently appointed Northern Command chief Brigadier General Zeyar Aung, so all lines of communication were being closed off.

Reached for comment on the Kachin situation, Karen National Union (KNU) joint general secretary Major Hla Ngwe said the junta’s order to close the liaison offices increased the chances of war breaking out between the two.

“Its meaning is so clear. They [the junta, can] take the pre-emptive move of launching war at any time of their choice. Even before this order, they had raided KIO outposts and arrested KIA members. Moreover they built up their troops in KIO-controlled areas throughout this period. This suggests growing tension between them and events could even lead to the breakout of renewed hostilities. We’ve had such precedents … before so we gathered and discussed all eventualities,” Hla Ngwe said.

The KNU is a part of six-member alliance called the Committee for the Emergence of Federal Union that includes the KIO.

Under the alliance agreement, if one member was attacked by the military regime, all other members would co-operate by escalating fighting in areas under their control, even though they would be unable to send reinforcements directly to the initial conflict zone, he said.

Other alliance members are the Shan State Army North, Karenni Nationality Progressive Party, New Mon State Party and Chin National Front. The bloc’s chairman is KIO vice-chairman Major General En Ban La.

Local sources said the regime had built up a 1,000-strong force near the Kasone region in areas controlled by KIA Brigade 2 east of Namti in Mogaung Township, since last week.

The KIO has been under increasing military pressure to adopt the BGF proposal in the past few months, with travel and weapons bans imposed on members.

The Tanai Township Peace and Development Council had pressed the KIO last month to seek alternative premises for its liaison office in Tanai before this month.

Last Updated ( Monday, 22 November 2010 23:40 )  

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