By MIN LWIN
Regional commanders from the Burmese military government met the leaders of several ceasefire groups on Tuesday for talks that likely centered on the groups’ participation in the 2010 election, according to sources at the Sino-Burmese border.
Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Tuesday, the vice-chairman of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), Gauri Zau Seng, confirmed that 10 KIO representatives, including Chairman Lanyaw Zawng Hra, had met with Brig-Gen Soe Win of Northern Regional Military Command.
“They met about 10 o’clock this morning in Myitkyina and spoke about the 2010 election,” Gauri Zau Seng said, but declined to provide further details about the meeting.
Two armed Kachin groups—the KIO and the New Democratic Army (Kachin)—recently announced they had formed a proxy party named the Kachin State Progressive Party to participate in next year’s election.
The two ceasefire groups have voiced their support for the military-sponsored “Seven-step Road Map to Democracy” and have approved the junta’s constitution.
Also on Tuesday, Maj-Gen Aung Than Htut of the Northeast Regional Military Command met in Lasho, northern Shan State with Sao Khai Hpa, the chairman of the Shan State Army-North.
Likewise, Brig-Gen Win Maung, a commander with the Regional Operation Command based in Laogai, met with a delegation from the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, a Kokang ceasefire group.
Aung Kyaw Zaw, a Burmese military researcher based in China, said that representatives of New Democratic Army (Kachin), including Zahkung Tingying, met on Tuesday with Brig-Gen Soe Win of Northern Regional Military Command.
“They spoke about how to reform the ethnic army after the election,” he said.
Aung Kyaw Zaw also said that Burmese Military Affairs Security Chief Lt-Gen Ye Myint met for talks with a delegation of the United Wa Sate Army (UWSA), Burma’s largest armed ethnic group, in Tang Yan, eastern Shan State.
After that meeting, Ye Myint met Sai Lin and a delegation from the National Democratic Alliance Army, which is based in eastern Shan State.
Several sources said that Ye Myint's main mission was to discuss the upcoming elections.
At a 20th anniversary celebration in Wa State recently, Bao You-Xiang, one of the leaders of the UWSA and its political wing, the United Wa State Party (UWSP), said that the UWSA was working toward building a more “solid and united” Wa State.
Sources speculated that the Burmese army was pushing the UWSA to disarm its troops and to withdraw from strategic positions in southern Shan State, along the Thai-Burmese border.
The Burmese junta has signed ceasefire agreements with several ethnic armies since 1989, but has until now allowed the ceasefire groups to retain their arms and control their areas.
Meanwhile, a non-ceasefire group, the New Mon State Party, declared recently that it will not participate in the elections and will not disarm.