Monday, June 1, 2009

Did NMSP Reject Border Guard Role?

The Irrawaddy News

One of Burma’s major ethnic ceasefire groups, the New Mon State Party (NMSP), has rejected the Burmese military authorities’ instruction to transform their soldiers into border guards under joint-command of the Burmese army, according to a source close to the party who claims to have been present at the deciding meeting on March 26.

However, Nai ong Ma-nge, a spokesperson for the NMSP, refused to comment on the Mon group’s decision. Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Monday, he would only say that the Mon army was expected to guard Mon people, not to guard a borderline.

The Mon source said the NMSP leaders met junta representative Lt-Gen Ye Myint on March 3 and were told the party would not have to disarm if they undertook the role of border guards.

If the Mon party has indeed rejected the junta’s offer, it would follow the decision of the United Wa State Army (UWSA), which in May reportedly rejected the border guard role it was offered.

According to the Burmese regime’s guidelines, each border guard battalion would consist of 326 troops, including 30 from the Burmese army, of whom three would be Burmese officers with administrative positions, according to sources.

The border security force would be mobilized within the territory currently held by the armed ceasefire groups.

According to the sources, the Burmese military authorities had given several ethnic ceasefire groups a deadline of the end of May to accept their offer of undertaking the new roles.

However, several ethnic ceasefire groups have rejected the proposal because they refuse to work under the command of the Tatmadaw, the Burmese army.

A total of 17 insurgent groups have signed ceasefire agreements with the ruling generals since 1989, according to official Burmese reports.

The NMSP controls about 700 troops and the party has already announced it will not support nor participate in the national election, which is due to be held in 2010.

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