Thursday, May 21, 2009

UWSA Leaders Reject Border Guard Offer

The Irrawaddy News

Burma’s most powerful ethnic ceasefire group, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), this week rejected an offer from Burmese military authorities that it reassign its soldiers to duties as border guards under joint-command of the Burmese army, according to sources at the Sino-Burmese border.

Leaders of the UWSA—which has some 20,000 troops in strength—personally responded to Burmese Military Affairs Security Chief Lt-Gen Ye Myint that they can not accept the offer and that the Wa rebel army would maintain its current ceasefire status. According to sources, the Wa leaders said the junta’s offer will be reconsidered in the future, but did not mention when.

The move came one month after Lt-Gen Ye Myint met for talks with a delegation of UWSA representatives in Tang Yan, eastern Shan State.

“Ye Myint was very angry after he received the response from the UWSA,” said Aung Kyaw Zaw, a military analyst at the border.

He said that Ye Myint phoned the Wa leaders accusing them of looking out for only the interests of the central committee and of ignoring the will of their soldiers.

“Ye Myint warned the Wa leaders that this was a final offer and a very good opportunity for them,” said Aung Kyaw Zaw.

The Burmese security chief also said that he will conduct a survey among UWSA soldiers by himself to monitor the personal opinions of the Wa troops.

Aung Kyaw Zaw said that so far there have been no signs of tensions between the Burmese army and UWSA troops.

The military analyst said that the Burmese regime would not take any direct action against the UWSA at the moment as they are under heavy pressure by the international community with respect to the ongoing trial of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Sources at the Sino-Burmese border speculated that Burmese army leaders were pressuring the UWSA to disarm and to withdraw from strategic positions in southern Shan State along the Thai-Burmese border. However, to date there is no sign that the UWSA will withdraw its troops, they said.

Sources speculated that the most probable reason for rejecting the border guard offer was that the UWSA did not want to be subservient to Burmese command.

Seventeen insurgent groups have signed ceasefire agreements with the ruling generals since 1989, according to official Burmese reports.

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