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One of Burma’s most prominent armed ethnic groups has made a final deadline day decision to reject the junta’s request to transform into a Border Guard Force.
The country’s ruling generals set 1 September as the day that all ceasefire armies make the transformation, which would bring them under control of Naypyidaw and see their lower-ranking troops assimilated into the Burmese army.
Many have however rejected, and in response the generals have threatened war in Burma’s volatile border regions where the majority of ethnic minority groups are located.
Deputy-general of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Wawhkyung Sin Wa, said that it was the group’s “unwavering stance” to see a federal union emerge in Burma with autonomy for ethnic minorities.
But the controversial 2008 constitution that set the ball rolling for elections this year makes it clear that the future of Burma lies as “one nation, one army”, while senior Burmese army official Win Thein in June told the United Wa State Army (UWSA), Burma’s largest ceasefire group, that “there shouldn’t be various armed groups in one country”, meaning transformation was inevitable.
Wawhkyung Sin Wa said that the KIA would now look to achieve its goals of a federal state “via peaceful negotiations and a dialogue”. Asked what would happen if Burmese troops launched an attack, he remained coy.
“It depends on what the government will do to us. For us, we are taking a stable stance on maintaining peace and looking for dialogue.”
There are also reports that the New Mon State Party (NMSP) has officially rejected the Border Guard Force proposal, although this has not been confirmed.