Tue 6 Oct 2009
Filed under: On The Border
The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), one of the largest ethnic armed groups in Northern Burma is trying to work out a compromise formula with the Burmese military junta over the issue of transforming its armed wing, said KIO officials.
The regime is in no mood to compromise on its proposed Border Guard Force (BGF). However, the KIO will continue negotiating with the military junta through dialogue, Dr. Lahkyen La Ja, General Secretary of the KIO in the Laiza headquarters on the Sino-Burma border in Kachin State told KNG today.
Since April, the KIO has been under mounting pressure to convert its armed-wing the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) to the Burmese Army controlled BGF on a battalion level by the junta.
The KIO, on the other hand has proposed to the junta that it wants to transform the KIA to a brigade level self-governed Kachin Regional Guard Force (KRGF). It also desires direct participation in administration, the legislature and judiciary of the new Kachin State government to be formed after the 2010 elections.
On the BGF, Dr. La Ja, one of the key policy makers of the KIO told KNG that the highest level of compromise that the KIO is willing to make with the junta is transforming KIA to KRGF.
If a compromise formula does not emerge, the KIO will not start a war against the junta but will keep negotiations between them open, added the KIO General Secretary.
For the moment in terms of self-defence, the KIA is prepared and on high military alert for a possible offensive by the Burmese Army in its territory in Kachin State and Northeast Shan State, said Dr. La Ja.
The KIO, led mostly by educated Kachins supported the junta-run Constitutional Referendum and approved the junta-centric new constitution in May, 2008.
Dr. La Ja said, neither the junta nor the KIO compromised in the eight meetings it had over either side’s demand. However they may meet before the end of October.
According to the junta’s deadline, all ethnic ceasefire groups in the country have been given till October 31 for changing their armed-wings to the junta-proposed BGF.
Given the deadline, the KIO/KIA and other ethnic ceasefire groups in Shan State— the United Kachin Land Army (UKA), United Wa State Army (UWSA), Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) and Mongla-based National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), who rejected the BGF are preparing to defend themselves against the Burmese Army, said their sources.
At the same time, China is also setting up new refugee camps for Burmese in the country’s northwest Yunnan province close to the Burma border since last month.