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UWSA declares autonomous region

Jan 5, 2009 (DVB), The United Wa State Army announced on 1 January that its territory in eastern Burma would now be known as the Wa state government special administrative region.

The UWSA, which has signed a ceasefire with the ruling State Peace and Development Council, declared autonomy for the area which is officially known as Shan state special region-2.

Copies of the declaration were sent to the SPDC, to neighbouring countries and to allies of the group, according to Aung Kyaw Zaw, a military analyst based on the China-Burma border.

"Although it doesn’t seem extraordinary at first glance, there are three points to bear in mind," Aung Kyaw Zaw said.

"Whether the government recognises it or not, it has unilaterally declared itself independent," he said.

"It is telling the Burmese government to its face that special region, 2 is its special administrative region," he continued.

"Thirdly, in a statement issued on October 2007 [ceasefire groups] demanded recognition of the ceasefire regions as special regions in the constitution."

Aung Kyaw Zaw said it was now up to the government whether or not to recognise the area as an autonomous region.

Political analysts based in Thailand said they had been expecting the UWSA to announce its independence in this way.

The UWSA is the strongest of the ceasefire groups, with 20,000 troops. The group also recently claimed to have a weapons and ammunition factory.

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw

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