Tuesday, January 6, 2009

UWSA changes nomenclature of administrative territory

by Ko Wine

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The 'United Wa State Party' has changed its administrative territory from 'Shan State Special Region No. 2' to 'Wa State Government Special Administrative Region', with effect from January 1.

According to observers who are closely watching the situation, UWSA has already informed the change of nomenclature to the Burmese military junta.

"They are not asking for permission, they have just informed the junta. They will refer to their territory by the new official term 'Wa State Government Special Administrative Region' from now on", the Sino-Burma border based Burma observer U Aung Kyaw Zaw said.

"The names of 'United Wa State Army' (UWSA) and 'United Wa State Party' (UWSA) will remain unchanged. They changed the name of their administrative region only. They have already made office seals. The new signboards of their offices have also been changed," he added.

U Sein Kyi, editor of the Thai based 'Shan Herald News Agency' (SHAN) which usually and specifically covers Shan State related news, said that he also heard this news but they are still in the process of verifying it.

He said that the Kengtung based Triangle Region Military Command Commander Maj. Gen. Kyaw Phyo called and met military and administrative officials of Wa 417th Brigade, No. 171 Wa Military Region of Mengyawn, Mengsat, Mengton townships in Kengtung on 26 to 27 December last year.

At the meeting, he briefed the officials on necessary reforms including transformation of Wa Army units in accordance with the new constitution. After that, Wa Party informed the change of name of the territory under their control to the junta, the editor said.

The Burmese observer U Aung Kyaw Zaw said that this action of Wa HQ, which controls both northern and southern Wa State, informing of their name change to the junta shows that constitutional crisis exists in Burma, even though the regime is unhappy with this letter, they are in dilemma in taking military action against the Wa Army.

"They have no other strong points other than showing the international community that they are making peace with the armed groups. They (regime) cannot afford breaking the ceasefire agreement and exchanging fire again under the current circumstances of heavy international pressure being mounted on them. Moreover over 87-89 per cent of the population in these areas is ethnic Wa people. The Burmese regime dare not try military stunts at this time because it would be like banging a brick wall with the head," U Aung Kyaw Zaw said.

"The armed groups do not accept this newly approved constitution at all. They expressed their positions against this constitution in various ways. Wa issued a statement on 10 October 2007 after the monk-led saffron revolution. In this statement, they demanded that the junta let them grant 'Special Region' status in the new constitution being drafted as promised earlier" he added.

The 'Office of Foreign Assets Control' (OFAC) under the United States Finance Department issued a notification on 13 November last year which froze the assets and accounts of 26 people and 17 companies including the senior officials and commanders of UWSA namely Wei Xiaokhan, Wei Xiaolong, Wei Xiaoying, Bao Yochang, He Chuntin and Sik Gonan among others.

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