Ceasefire groups strengthen forces in Shan state

Sep 10, 2008 (DVB), As the SPDC expands its forces in ethnic areas, some of the main ceasefire groups are also strengthening their positions, according to a report by the Shan Herald Agency for News.

The Shan State Army-North and the United Wa State Army have been fortifying security around their bases since the 10 May referendum, according to informed sources quoted by SHAN.

In response, regional commanders in Shan state have been paying visits to border towns since August and ordering regular and militia units to strengthen their forces.

Sai Merng of SHAN told DVB regional commanders had been putting pressure on ceasefire groups to disarm.

"The commander of Triangle Command, general Kyaw Phyo, came to Mong La on 29 August and said all armed groups must lay down their arms by 2009, by order of the supreme command," he said.

The Northeast commander also went to Man Pan, Kutkai and other areas and told local militias to beef up their forces and carry out military exercises.

Eastern Command leader Ya Pyit also told the Haha Ja group, based in Homong near the Thai-Burma border, that if they did not lay down their arms they could join Yawd Sek's group, the SSA-South, which is still fighting the SPDC.

Representatives of the Kachin Independence Organisation and New Mon State party said the groups were unlikely to accept the order to lay down arms before the 2010 election as directed by the road map.

The KIO's Dr Tuja said he hoped that there could be negotiations with the regime.

"We hope to find a solution through consultation, depending on how the situation unfolds as the road map progresses," he said.

Naing Aungmangay of the NMSP said it was too early to make a firm decision on strategy.

"We still don't how our troops will be positioned or what kind of orders and privileges our party will be given," he said.

The National Democratic Alliance Army-Eastern Shan State and the UWSA have also strengthened their forces and built trenches and bunkers surrounding their bases in Mongla and Panghsang respectively, SHAN reported.

The UWSA and SSA-North were unavailable for comment.

Reporting by Nan Kham Kaew

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