Wed 30 Jul 2008
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
The report filed by BBC on 29 July that the ceasefire Shan State Army (SSA) “North” had decided to contest in the 2010 elections was hotly repudiated by a top officer close to the group’s chief of staff.
The customarily media-shy group called up the Shan Herald’s Saengchuen Soikhamhuang, known by the Burmese media in his nom de guerre U Sein Kyi, yesterday evening to state its denial.
“The bi-annual meeting at the Hseng Keow headquarters (in Hsipaw township) is still in progress and no decision has been reached yet,” said the officer calling from eastern Shan State.
The BBC report had dropped a bombshell among its allies, according to him. “We have already informed them that we are still strictly observing the joint-resolution that we had made earlier: that none of us will do anything without consultation among ourselves,” he explained.
He also denied a report that the SSA North’s leader Maj-Gen Loimao had resigned and was succeeded by his deputy Col Gaifa. “It is only a false rumor,” he said. “Why, I still remember him making a firm pledge to the people and fighters gathering at the Shan State Army Day (24 April) ceremony in Hseng Keow that the SSA would never surrender until democracy and state rights were restored.”
Some of its allies, particularly the Kachin ceasefire groups, have already decided to form a state-based party to enter the 2010 elections, according to Kachin News Group (KNG).
Other major allies: Kokang, Wa and Mongla have yet to say anything officially on the subject.
“Among Mongla leaders, there seem to be a difference of opinion,” said a Shan businessman working on the Mongla-Daluo border. “While most leaders of Shan and Akha origins are against appeasing the Burmese generals, those of ethnic Chinese origin, who hold the purse strings of the group, appear to be reluctant to make a tough stand.”
Mongla’s final decision, to a large extent, will depend on the Wa that is also having a leadership crisis following President Bao Youxiang’s prolonged illness, he predicted.
The SSA was formed in 1964 under the leadership of the late Mahadevi of Yawnghwe. One of its factions, the SSA “North”, concluded a ceasefire agreement with Rangoon in 1989. The other faction, led by a co-founder Gawnzerng aka Mo Heng, became Shan United Revolutionary Army (SURA), reverting to the original name only in 1998. It is led by Gawnzerng’s long-time follower Yawd Serk.