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Civil servants return to Wa region

Civil servants from two government ministries are returning to the area controlled by the United Wa State Army.

State employees fled the region amid tensions that erupted between the group and the ruling Burmese military government in 2010.

Hostilities began mounting in April 2010 between the junta and the UWSA both over its blocking of army-accompanied election officials and the group’s refusal to transform into a Border Guard Force – a move that would see lower-ranking troops assimilated into the Burmese army.

In consequence, polling booths were closed in the area during the 2010 general elections.

Civil servants were pulled out the region of Shan state belonging to the UWSA when fighting appeared possible. After months of talks, relations between the government and Wa officials stabilised.

According to a government official, staff from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Border Affairs has returned to their offices inside UWSA territory.

“So far, we have staff from the government’s education department and the [border development affairs] department back in the region. [Health workers] are yet to return – [Burmese authorities] said they will also be sent back,” said Aung Myint, the UWSA’s spokesperson.

Burmese troops have yet to return to the area.

Aung Myint said the UWSA has agreed to allow civil servants from 10 different state departments back into the territory.

“Previously there were civil servants from government organisations including the health, livestock breeding and the forestry departments,” said Aung Myint. “They were all pulled out [because] they had to cast votes in the [2010] elections.”


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