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UWSA explains peace agreement with government

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Members of the United Wa State Army were briefed Friday on the peace agreement it reached with the central government peace implementing committee. 

United Wa State Army and government controlled areas in Shan State.More than 130 brigade-level officers and township and district level officials attended the two days briefing at UWSA headquarters Panseng in northern Shan State. “Our low level staff and commanders agreed with what our leaders decided,” a Wa commander who asked not to be named told Mizzima.

The government peace team led by ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party secretary (1) Aung Thaung and secretary (2) Thein Zaw was accompanied by selected cabinet members of the Shan State government who met Shan State Special Region (2) UWSA leaders on September 6 at Kengtung. The agreement covered reopening liaison offices, discussions on development work in the Wa area and obtaining prior permission before free passage in each other’s territory. 

The signing took place 20 days after an announcement by President Thein Sein calling for peace talks with armed groups through the relevant state-level governments.

Thein Zaw, who led the government team, is also the chairman of the Ethnic Affairs and Internal Peace Implementing Committee that was formed on September 5 by Parliament.

The government has consistently attempted to convert ethnic armed forces into a government-controlled Border Guard Force (BGF), but that issue was not mentioned in the negotiations.

The date and venue for the next meeting of government delegates and Wa leaders has not yet been set.

In the meantime, the UWSA informed its lower-level offices and officials about the reopening of government offices in their territory and the return of government officials in education, forestry, telegraph and agriculture departments. In April 2010, the military regime ordered all NGOs and government staff to leave Wa-controlled territory.

The UWSA opened liaison offices in Rangoon, Mandalay, Kengtung, Tachileik, Muse, Lashio and Tangyan but the offices were closed starting in September 2010.

The UWSA, which is notorious for its narcotic drug production, is not a member of United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), which is comprised of 12 ethnic armed groups.

On August 28, the UNFC said Thein Sein’s peace proposal was not acceptable. It said negotiating with armed organizations separately was like “driving a wedge among them,” and they wanted to negotiate as a united group.

“Their geopolitical situation is different from us, and they keep our UNFC at a distance because of that. Their attitude depends on the attitude of China. So they act in accordance with their situation,” UNFC secretary Nai Han Thar told Mizzima.

One day after signing the agreement, the government delegation met and discussed peace with another non-UNFC member, the Mengla of Shan State Special Region (4), in eastern Shan State and reached a similar agreement.

The Mengla group, with about 3,000 members, was represented by Vice Chairman San Pei; General-Secretary Aik Shen La; Vice Chief of Staff Lan Aung; and liaison officer Zin Kham Nau, according Aung Kyaw Zaw, a Sino-Burma border-based observer.

“They [the government] received [political] profit by reaching this agreement with the Wa and Mengla groups. And then they also denied the UNFC stand by highlighting the achievements,” Nai Han Thar said.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 17 September 2011 15:31 )  

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