Tue 9 Oct 2012
Filed under: Inside Burma,Military,News
The Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) , commonly known as SSA North, that is facing an ultimatum to withdraw from another stronghold, will be meeting government representatives from the Union Peacemaking Work Committee (UPWC) soon, according to a highly-placed SSA source.
He however refused to say when, where and with whom the meeting is to take place.
The SSA had earlier fought two battles defending two mountain bases near the Salween crossings which connect it to its Wa allies east of the river. It had withdrawn from them after negotiations with U Thein Zaw, the UPWC’s Vice Chairman # 3.
The UPWC, formed on 3 May, is chaired by Vice President Sai Mawk Kham. Two other chairmen are Army chief Gen Soe Win and Minister of President’s Office U Aung Min.
The group was again demanded by the Burma Army, through Shan State Government Security and Border Affairs Minister Col Aung Thu (a military appointee) early this month to vacate the Ta Hsarm Pu crossing on the Pang river, a tributary of the Salween, between Mongnawng (Kehsi township) and Mongzang (Monghsu township), by 5 October. The SSA North that has been working on an antimony mine for years had refused to budge, thereby bringing to the two sides on the warpath once again.
The group, that had signed the ceasefire agreement on 28 January, demanded in return another meeting to sort out the problem.
On Monday, 7 October, the SSA, that is based in Wanhai, Kehsi township, and is also active in Monghsu, Tangyan, Mongyai, Hsipaw, Namhsan, Mantong and Hsenwi townships, met Maj Gen Tun Tun Naung, the new regional commander in Lashio. “It was just to renew our friendship we had formed while he was commander of the Central East Command, based in Kholam,” said SSA spokesman Maj Sai La yesterday. “We didn’t discuss military matters.”
Ta Hsarm Pu, in any case, is outside Tun Tun Naung’s jurisdiction, added another officer. “It belongs to his former regional command,” he said.
The ongoing tensions between the Burma Army and the SSA North resemble one of Aesop’s fables where a camel, by using the simple excuse of taking refuge from a sand storm, eventually drives an Arab out from his tent, according to a Thai border watcher.