Thursday, June 4, 2009

Riot Police to be Replaced with New Border Defense Forces in Western Burma

Maungdaw (Narinjara): The Burmese military junta has plans to replace riot police with a new border defense force in the two Arakanese border townships of Buthidaung and Maungdaw, said a police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"It has been heard that two riot battalions will be replaced by border defense forces that are now under formation throughout the border area of Burma. The plan will be implemented before the 2010 election," the officer said.

The Burmese military junta is now trying to form the border guard force with many armed ceasefire groups in the ethnic areas of Burma, primarily in the east and north of Burma.

The border guard forces will be placed under the Kha Kha Kyi and will be directly controlled by senior army officials from Naypyidaw.

The police officer said, "The authority has plans for all border areas in Burma to be guarded by the new border defense force before the 2010 election and the border defense force will be formed as soon as possible by the Burmese military authority."

Because of this plan, the military authority is now forcing the ceasefire ethnic groups to reform their forces with the name of the border defense force to guard the border areas.

"Yes, our government has proposed the ethnic ceasefire armed groups on the eastern borders serve as border guards under its supervision before its upcoming election in 2010," he said.

In the western border area, there are no ceasefire groups, but the army authority will form the border defense force with soldiers from the Burmese army to guard the western border.

"All ceasefire groups including the DKBA will be transformed into border guards under the direct supervision of army officers. There will be no particular name of the groups after the transformation and the force is supposed to be in effect from 2010 in all border areas of the country," said the officer, adding, "I do not know if such ethnic groups will come to the western border area for guarding after they are reformed into a border defense force."

A reliable source said the high military authority has already ordered local army officers to prepare for the formation of border defense forces in Arakan State.

The largest and most friendly ceasefire group with the junta is the United Wa State Army in northeast Burma. The USWA was also pressured by the military junta to reform into a border defense force but the armed group refused the junta's proposal. Relations between the USWA and the junta subsequently deteriorated.

The western border has its own border security force, Nasaka, which is a combined force of several government agencies, including the army, police, customs, and immigration. There is no information available about whether the Nasaka forces will continue to exist once the new border forces are formed.

Nasaka forces were already dissolved once in Burma after former Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt was ousted from power.

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