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Ceasefire group split sparks tension

Aug 27, 2009 (DVB), An influential ceasefire group in northern Burma has split after pro-junta members announced the formation of a new committee, according to a political analyst on the China-Burma border.

The Kokang group, based in eastern Shan state, on Tuesday formed a new Central Executive Committee, following which it announced that the Kokang Special Region would be under new administration.

Political analyst Aung Kyaw Zaw said that the majority of the region, including the capital Laogai, is now said to be under joint control of the Burmese army and the splinter group.

After the coup, the splinter group released a statement urging some 1,500 followers of ousted leader Peng Jiasheng, who fled Laogai and is now near the China-Burma border, to come back and surrender.

According to Aung Kyaw Zaw, the statement said that Peng Jiasheng is wanted for drug-trafficking and that those fail to comeback at a given time would be regarded as enemies and be destroyed.

Peng Jiasheng responded yesterday with a statement calling on the government to investigate the coup and withdraw government troops sent to the region on August 23.

He also urged the junta to publicly reject the new group because "they do not represent the [Kokang] people".

China, which is believed to be backing many of the ceasefire groups in the region, has subsequently sent more troops to its border and is preparing to send a team of delegates to Lasho town and Mandalay's capital Mandalay to discuss the issue.

Meanwhile, local civilians in the region have fled variously into China and inner Shan state.

Regional allies of the original Kokang group, the United Wa State Army, Mongla Army, the Shan State Army (North) and the Kachin Independence Army are also preparing for conflict, said Aung Kyaw Zaw.

According to unconfirmed reports, around a hundred troops from Peng Jiasheng's group defected to the pro-junta side yesterday evening.

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw


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