The United Wa State Army (UWSA) withdrew its troops from the Mongla region this week, signalling the end of a six-month-long standoff with the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), which controls the autonomous area in northern Shan State.
Nyi Yang, a spokesperson for the UWSA’s External Relations Department, told DVB on Thursday the group recalled troops that had been deployed in the NDAA’s Mongla Township territory, neighbouring the Wa Self-Administered Zone, since September of last year.
“The [UWSA] on [Wednesday] handed the bases in Mongla back to the [NDAA]. We seized control of these outposts … but we were only taking over for a brief period,” said Nyi Yang.
“We gave back the NDAA bases following an agreement between the leaderships of the two sides, as we determined the situation in the area has returned to how it was before 28 September 2016.”
The UWSA in September moved into Mongla Township, taking over multiple NDAA bases in a manoeuvre that strained relations between the two long-standing allies in northern Shan State, which both trace ethnic links to China. The Burmese military, as tensions between the groups rose, stepped in and ordered the Wa to withdraw its troops, but to no avail.
Neither the UWSA nor the NDAA is signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. The former is Burma’s largest ethnic armed group, while both have autonomous administrative control of their respective territories.