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Wa set up brigade on western flank

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The United Wa State Army has set up a brigade to boost security on its western flank along a route it believes Burmese troops would take to march on UWSA headquarters in Pangsang, a high-ranking UWSA official said.

Bao-Samrai-UwsaBrigade 618 commanded by Bao Samrai was stationed at Manghseng-Nawngkhet, bordering Tangyan Township, facing Burmese Army troops at Loi Panglong, in Shan State, the Wa official said. 

The base is also adjacent to the area controlled by the Shan State Army North (SSA-N) Brigade 1, which along with the UWSA, is a member of the six-party alliance of armed ethnic minority groups that have refused to transform into Border Guard Force (BGF) under Burmese Army command, and that have signed a deal saying each would come to the other’s aid should they be attacked by junta forces. 

The UWSA official said: “We will not exchange our weapons for peace but we will protect ‘peace’ with our weapons. Moreover, we will continue to follow our two main principles: peace and development in our area.”

The UWSA has nine brigades, four of which (318, 418, 468 and 618) were stationed in the north of the Wa-held areas while another five brigades (772, 775, 218, 518 and 778) were positioned along the Thai-Burmese border. The UWSA reportedly claims to have more than 20,000 soldiers and is believed to be the strongest amongst the armed ethnic opposition groups.

Meanwhile, the United Wa State Party (UWSP), the political wing of the UWSA, was holding a congress in Maing Maw (Mong Mai in Shan), in the north of Shan State.  The meetings started on Monday and will finish on Wednesday, a source close to the Wa told Mizzima.

Around 2,500 participants were attending, including high-ranking UWSA officials, Xiao Minliang, vice chairman of Wa State; Bo Lai Kham, chairman of the Wa Political Consultative Conference; Bao Youri, political commissar of the Wa’s southern military region 171; and Ai Lon, the UWSA deputy commander-in-chief, the source said.

The congress was discussing party policies, political stance, economics and social welfare, the source said. The party had also reaffirmed its peace and development policy and that it would continue to bear arms and defend its territory.

The UWSP had decided to monitor and judge the approach of the new Burmese government towards the Wa group. It was keen to talk about self-determination for Wa State and the difference between the regime and the UWSA, however, the group affirmed that it would not hand over weapons nor become a BGF, the source added, quoting decisions of the congress.

The UWSP was formed on December 20, 1988 after it overthrew the Communist Party of Burma and before signing a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese regime.

The relationship between the Burmese regime and UWSA started to sour when the group was pressured to transform into a BGF. Both Burmese and Wa troops had reinforced their positions along demarcated territories in the Northern Shan State.

Last Updated ( Friday, 24 December 2010 23:09 )  

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