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Ceasefire group rejects election request

May 6, 2009 (DVB), Burma's largest ceasefire group has rejected requests from the government to reduce troop numbers and form a political party to contest the 2010 elections on the grounds that the junta will force them to disarm.

Senior military officials from the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) meet with leaders of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) in northern Shan state last week, where Wa leaders were told to reduce troops by 3,000 and set up a political party in lieu of the 2010 elections.

UWSA troops are thought to number around 30,000.

The meeting on 28 April coincided with visits by senior SPDC officials to six ceasefire groups, including the Kachin Independence Organisation and Shan State Army (North).

"Our Wa state’s people government doesn’t want to accept [the requests]," said a Wa army commander.

"They are trying to split [us] like the way they did to the [Karen National Union]. Our leaders will never allow that."

The pro-junta Democratic Karen Buddhist Army split from the armed wing of the KNU, the Karen National Liberation Army, in 1994 and allied themselves with the government. They now collaborate in offensives against the KNU.

Other reports surfaced yesterday of the Burmese government encouraging ceasefire groups to become border guards.

A military observer based on the China-Burma border, Aung Kyaw Zaw, said the move would create gains only for the SPDC.

"It means that [the UWSA] have to hand over both their weapons and troops," he said.

"After handing over the weapons and troops, there would be no related governmental organizations; there would be no Wa state government.

"By contesting the election, [the UWSA would be helping] the SPDC consolidate the credibility of its election."

Reporting by Maung Too


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