Can Burma influence Wa Army to abide by its constitution?
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Can Burma influence Wa Army to abide by its constitution?

Vice-Chairmen of Union-level Peace Making Committee, Aung Min (Union Minister at President Office) and Thein Zaw (Chairman, Lower House National Races Affairs and Internal Peace-making Committee) together with Union Ministers Lt-Gen Thein Htay, Khin Maung Soe and Ohn Myint, Shan State Chief Minister Sao Aung Myat, Maung Maung Swe (MP), Commanders Brig-Gen Aung Soe, Maj-Gen Than Tun Oo and officials, paid a visit to Pang-hsang by army helicopter on 4 December. They were welcomed by Vice Chairman Xiao Minliang (Panhsan Special Region-2, or the United Wa State Army – UWSA) and top members, the state-run New Light of Myanmar said today.

Both sides carried on talks about the scheduled peace making process at the meeting hall of UWSA Headquarters, the newspaper said. During the meeting, Vice-Chairman Xiao Minliang expressed thanks for the State’s regular assistance for the growth of Pang-hsang region and welcomed such assistance.

The government as well as the UWSA would hold fast and become conscious the facts included in the agreement between the Union Government, the State Government and the Special Region (2). The UWSA’s leaders promise that the Wa region would never secede from the Union of Myanmar (Burma). At the same time, the UWSA urged the government to keep on providing essential assistance to the Wa region.

The message given to the Wa leadership on 4 December by the Naypyitaw delegation was essentially no different from that given to Mongla on 3 November, quoting Wa sources Shan Herald Agency for News said.

In keeping with Vice-Chairman Aung Min’s words, the region’s requirements would be carried out after being reported to the President. The purpose of their travel around the region was to deal with the region’s needs, Vice-Chairman Thein Zaw said. He would like to express thanks for their efforts for maintaining the facts included in the agreement. The Wa Region had already achieved development as well as peace and stability that should be a good example to other national races, he said.

Thein Zaw continued to say that in the future, the government would support mutual efforts for stability and regional improvement by working together with the Wa officials. He also invited Wa representatives to Nay-Pyi-Taw to observe Parliamentary sessions.

The Wa region was presented with a K 100 million ($ 117,647) contribution for the construction of three motor roads in the Wa region: (1) Hopang-Namteuk (Nandeng); (2) Hopang-Mongmai-Panghsang; and (3) Panghsang-Markmang (Metman) respectively, Shan Herald Agency for News said. The “gift” was in addition to K 400 million ($ 470,588) presented in August.

Looking back into the near past, on July 30, 2010, the UWSA and the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), declined to transform into a junta-run Border Guard Force (BGF), saying any political party contesting in the 2010 general elections were not allowed to come and campaign for votes in areas under UWSA control.

The previous Burmese junta instructed the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the NDAA also known as Mongla group to submit their agreement on transforming into BGF by the first week of September, as said by Shan Herald Agency for News.

In addition, the previous junta dogmatically insisted the nation must have only one army and that clause has been put in the unjust 2008 constitution which cannot be amended without permission of the armed forces. Currently, the Thein Sein government also wishes the Special Region (2) of the UWSA would act in line with the 2008 constitution. According to the Article 338 of the military-drawn constitution:“All the armed forces in the Union shall be under the command of the Defense Services.”

The UWSA and NDAA said they will uphold the following four principles: (1) They will not surrender. (2) They will not transform into BGF unless their autonomy demands are met. (3) They will not shoot first. (4) But they are ready to protect themselves and they will not secede from the Union, according to the then sources from the Sino-Burma border.

According to Jane’s Intelligence Review in April 2008, China has become the main source of arms to the United Wa State Army. In an analysis of the Asian weapons black market, the Jane’s Intelligence Review (JIR) says that the United Wa State Army (UWSA) rebel group in Myanmar acts as the “middleman” between Chinese arms manufacturers and insurgent groups in the Northeast, with most weapons routed through China’s Yunnan province.

The UWSA is one of the 17 armed ethnic ceasefire groups that supported the Burmese military junta’s 14-year long National Convention that finished in September 2007.