The ailing military chief of the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA), Gen. Saw La Bwe, has temporarily transferred leadership powers to his deputy Saw Moshe amid concerns for his health.
The DKBA’s adjutant general, Maj. Tun Tun, said: “At the moment, our chief of staff is unable to speak due to his illness. He needs to rest and to continue receiving medical treatment until he makes a full recovery. In the meantime, the leadership role has been temporarily transferred to Gen. Saw Moshe.”
Saw Hla Bwe (also known as Na Kham Mwe and nicknamed “General Moustache” by comrades) fell ill in late 2013 from a respiratory problem and travelled to Singapore to receive medical treatment the following year.
Maj. Tun Tun expressed confidence in the appointment of Saw Moshe, the DKBA’s vice-chief of staff, saying that he is an experienced leader.
“Gen. Saw Moshe is as well-experienced as Gen. Saw La Bwe. He has strong political convictions and we believe in his ability to lead us,” he said.
The DKBA in its present form is mostly made up of renegade troops from the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army that transformed into a Border Guard Forces under Burmese army supervision in early 2010. Saw La Bwe officially announced on 7 November 2010, the day of Burma’s last general election, that it was officially returning to armed revolution
The group is currently engaged as part of the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team in ceasefire talks with the government.
READ MORE: 2010 interview with Gen. Saw La Bwe: “We will pay with our lives”