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The Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) warned political parties in Shan State on Wednesday to halt election campaigns in the region due to ongoing armed clashes between the group’s military wing, the Shan State Army-South, and the Burmese army.
In a statement, the RCSS claimed government forces have launched military operations in parts of Shan State under its control, claiming civilians had been both shot and arrested, and called on all political parties to suspend campaigning until calm returns to the region.
“We are urging all political parties to halt their campaigns in areas under our control, especially rural areas, as there are safety concerns,” said RCSS spokesperson Col. Sai La.
“Sixteen different areas are affected: Muse, Namhkam, Kyaukme, Hsipaw and Namlan in northern Shan State; Kehsi Mansam, Mong Kung, Loilen, Panglong, Laihka and Mawkmai in southern Shan State; and Mongton, Monghsat, Monghpyak, Kengtung and Tachilek in eastern Shan State,” the statement said.
He added that the group is reaching out to the Union Peace-making Work Committee’s (UPWC) chairman Minister Aung Min to discuss their concerns, and will also send copies of the statement to the political parties active in the region.
In December 2011 the RCSS signed an initial ceasefire agreement with the government-appointed UPWC on both a regional and union level; it has also indicated it will sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in October.
Sai La told DVB that the hostilities by the Burmese army against the group could be detrimental to the ceasefire accord.
“If the government forces continue their offensive [against us] after our statement is released, it is not likely the NCA signing will take place – there is no point in signing a ceasefire agreement if they are going to continue fighting,” he said.
The RCSS has reported at least eight skirmishes with government troops between August and the release of the statement on 16 September. Burmese forces in Tachilek’s Wangkong village on Tuesday allegedly used four military helicopters and a fighter jet to assault the RCSS’s position.
Only last week, on 7 September, six villagers were injured and one later died after Burmese soldiers unloaded gunfire in the Mongpawng village of Padat, in apparent retaliation for an earlier clash with the RCSS.
Read more about the conflict in Shan State
Read more DVB coverage of the 2015 election