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Burmese government not talking to UNFC associate members

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Burmese government has not offered to hold peace talks with the associate members of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), according to the officials of UNFC.
N-ban-La-AwngThe UNFC, an alliance of ethnic armed groups, has two levels of membership depending on the strength of the political wing, the armed wing, the control area and the number of supporters.

The UNFC has six full-member groups and six associate member groups. The associate members are the Kachin National Organization (KNO), Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF), Lahu Democratic Union (LDU), National United Party of Arakan (NUPA), Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO) and Wa National Organization (WNO).
On November 19, the Rail Transportation Minister Aung Min met separately with the Karen National Union (KNU), Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) and Chin National Front [CNF] in Mae Sai in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand.
On October 29, Thein Zaw, the chairman of the National Race Affairs and Internal Peace-making Committee, met with the Restoration Council of the Shan State/Shan State Army [SSA/SSPP] in Naypyitaw.
“Although the government is trying to seek cease-fires with [some strong] ethnic groups on a one-by-one basis, the UNFC has urged it to hold a political dialogue after the cease-fires. We are a member group of the UNFC. So, we will follow the decision of UNFC,” said Khun Okkar of the PNLO.

Meanwhile, the UNFC has formed a temporary committee comprising a delegate from each of the UNFC full members and one delegate each from the associate members to prepare for meetings with the government. The group is led by UNFC Secretary Nai Han Thar. Group members are La Hpai Hla (KIO), Major Khun Okkar (PNLO), Aung San Myint (KNPP), Saw Daw Lay Mu (KNU), Sai Htoo (SSA/SSPP) and Paul Sita (CNF).
Khun Okkar said that his Pa-O armed group is not strong, so it focuses only on canvassing in Hopong, Mawkmai and Langkho in southern Shan State and there is no current fighting with government troops
On August 18, the Burmese government announced that armed ethnic groups wishing to make peace should contact the state or region governments concerned as a first step, but no UNFC member group has contacted the government.
The PSLF said the government did not offer it peace because the PSLF is not a strong armed group. The PSLF would not offer to negotiate with the government first, said PSLF Secretary Mai Phone Kyaw.
The PSLF is based in the area controlled by KIO Brigade No. 3, which is a day’s walk from Kutkai, Mongton, Namhsan and Nanhkan west of the Salween River in northern Shan State, where most Palaung live. Some of its troops are based on the Thai-Burmese border.

“If the government continues to fight the Kachin, we will cooperate with the Kachin and launch joint military offensives against government troops later this year. We will enter into our area again,” Mai Phone Kyaw said.

LDU Vice Chairman Major Salmon said that his troops are secretly based in Kengtong, Mong Ping, Mong Tong, Mong Hpayak, Mong Hsat and Tachileik Townships and it will follow the decision of the UNFC.

“We do our activities secretly. If we do something, without the UWSA (United Wa State Army), the strongest armed group in Shan State, people will not support us. We hide our weapons in the jungle,” he said.
Another small group, the WNO also said it would follow the decision of the UNFC. It is active in Loilen and Nansang [southern Shan State], which are opposite Thailand’s Mae Hong Son. Meanwhile, the WNO will hold a central committee meeting and will take advice from the UWSA, according to WNO temporary Secretary Ta Aik Ri.
“Now, we are still surviving by ourselves. If the government does not offer peace talks, we will forward with our revolution. There is no fighting, currently. We recruited people from far away areas into our armed group. For example, from Tangyang and Lashio,” he said. He declined to disclose how many soldiers they have.
The UNFC chairman is Lt-Gen N'Ban La Awng of the KIO; the vice chairman is Abel Tweed (KNPP); secretary is Nai Han Thar (New Mon State Party); and joint secretary is Saw Daw Lay Mu (KNU). It is preparing to form a joint federal army, which will contain troops from all member groups, and KNU Commander in Chief General Mutu Saypo will lead the federal army, according to a UNFC decision in May.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 23 November 2011 16:06 )  

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