Saturday, June 22, 2024

Will Burma Army react positively to Kokang overtures?

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On the heels of Law Khee Lah Summit Meeting and coinciding with Aung San Suu Kyi’s China visit,  Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), or better known as Kokang group, issued a statement that it has decided to unilaterally imply a ceasefire with the Burma Army (BA), due to the strong desire of China for a peaceful border;  reacting to the people’s desire of Burma’s democratization process and to be able to conduct the national election. It said, the decision will go into effect on 10 June, after mid-night.
According to DVB report of 11 June, Tun Myat Lin, spokesman and general secretary of MNDAA,    said: “The main reason for declaring a ceasefire is that we don’t want to cause a delay to the ongoing nationwide peace process. Also, we never actively attacked the government since the beginning of the conflict, and we want everyone to know that.”

He added: “We are concerned that the conflict will hinder the elections. We understand the general election is a crucial event for the country, and while polling will not take place in our area, we have to consider our ethnic brethren across the country.”

Earlier, voter registration is not being carried out in areas of Shan State deemed to be insecure, and voting may not take place in those areas in November, according to U Than Lwin Nyein, deputy director of Shan State election sub-committee. The Myanmar Times reported, on 20 March 2015, that it has learned that the state election commission has ordered its sub-commissions to omit registration in areas associated with some ethnic armed groups.

The townships, where voter registration could not be able to start in security-sensitive townships in the state “due to instability”, include Laukkai and Kon-kyan in the Kokang Self-Administered Zone, Panwai Mongma, Pangsang, Nahpan and Metman in the Wa Self-Administered Division, and the area around Mong La in Kengtung district that is controlled by the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), also known as Mongla.

U Than Lwin Nyein said the commission does not even have offices in the areas and it would only conduct voter registration if the Union Election Commission specifically instructs it to do so.
Meanwhile, the Union Election Commission’s Chairman, U Tin Aye indicated that there is still a possibility elections could be held if the situation improves in the Kokang self-administrated region, where martial law is currently in place. The measure was introduced in February following the outbreak of hostilities, according to DVB report of 11 June 2015.

While it is not clear, why the MNDAA has initiated such a move, many think that it is desperate to end the border wars for a couple of reasons. The main reason could be to have a political foothold, like those of the government recognized negotiation partner, within the bound of Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs), which is involved in the ongoing peace talks and the government is still refusing to recognize its organization. It is essential for it is quite clear political settlement could only be worked out through negotiations and not warfare. The second reason is simply to show the Chinese regime and as well the international community, that it is for peaceful settlement and in no way, is an aggressor or warmonger. Of course, considerations to do away with the human rights violations and sufferings of the Kokangnese, committed by the BA, must be one of its top priority; and ceasefire and negotiations are the only way to achieved this.

Given the Chinese nervosity and its recent military drill with live-ammunition along the border and the timely MNDAA overtures should be an opportunity to stop this senseless war, which is depleting the country’s financial resources, not to mention the human toll, counted in hundreds since the start of the war in February.

But for now it is an open question, the Union Solidarity and Development Party-Military regime is still tight lipped and not sure on how and if it would respond to the MNDAA overtures.

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