Days after clashes between the Burma Army and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) forces in Mong Kung, southern Shan State, tension remains high.
Fighting broke out in Ham Ngai village tract on February 27, and as of Friday, were still continuing.
“Clashes haven’t stopped as of now, but they are not as strong as the battle yesterday,” Maj Kham San, an RCSS spokesperson, told SHAN on Friday. “[The Burma Army] have yet to retreat from the area, so tension will remain until they leave,” he added.
On February 24, the RCSS announced that it would be holding the Shan national level political dialogue soon; Maj Kham San confirmed that this would occur in the town of Langkhur, likely in March.
The RCSS is playing an increasingly leading role in the holding of the fourth session of the government’s Union Peace Conference, tentatively scheduled for April. They want the dialogue to take place before this event.
However, the current clashes threaten to further damage the already-flailing peace process.
“First, it can impact mutual trust. Second, it can be an obstacle in peace process implementation,” general secretary of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy Sai Lek told SHAN. “It’s better to avoid confrontation,” he added.
Political analyst Maung Maung Soe pointed out that the Burma Army’s fighting with the RCSS in Mong Kung is occurring at the same time as clashes with the Karen National Union’s Brigade 5—another signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement—in Mutraw (Hpapun) District.
If the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee and the ethnic armed organizations signatory to the NCA cannot resolve the problem of ongoing fighting at a scheduled meeting with the government’s National Reconciliation and Peace Center in early March, the Langkhur political dialogue may not go ahead, Maung Maung Soe speculated.
“When they come to an agreement and gain some momentum in the peace process, battles occur. It’s strange. The stakeholders do not control it,” he told SHAN
SHAN tried to call the Tatmadaw’s True News Information Team for comment on the recent clashes in Mong Kung but received no response at the time of reporting.