Thursday, August 27, 2009

Kokangs victim of junta’s old tactics: observers

by Mungpi
Thursday, 27 August 2009 00:28

New Delhi (Mizzima) - Burma’s military rulers have yet again resorted to a divide and rule policy to break up the Kokang ceasefire armed group, which refused to toe the junta’s line of transforming its army to a border guard force, observers said.

On Wednesday, Peng Jiasheng, the Supreme Commander of the Kokang Army lost his capital Lao Kai and was forced along with his troops out of the town, as his deputy Bai Souqian and other Kokang militias took over the Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), also known as the Kokang Army, reports said.

According to the Thailand based Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN), the former Kokang Army led by Peng were not to be seen in Lao Kai, which is swarming with Burmese soldiers and the police as well as Kokang militias backed by the Burmese Army.

But sources said, Peng and his troops are headed for the north of Loa Kai and tension between the troops is high and a shoot-out could be eminent.

Aung Kyaw Zaw, a Sino-Burma border based military analyst, said, “it is a case of letting the Kokangs fight each other. The junta had applied this tactic a long time back and is now using it again to break the Kokang.”

He said the Burmese Army has sided with Peng’s former deputy Bai Souqian, who is now leading the Kokang militias in Lao Kai. According to reports, he has also reportedly been joined by other Kokang militias including Peng’s arch-rival Yang Mouliang.

Aung Naing Oo, a Burmese analyst based in Thailand said, the junta’s tactics are becoming obsolete and predictable, but sadly, groups are still finding themselves falling into the pit.

“We have seen the junta’s tactics at work with other rebels. The Kokang’s case is similar. The junta knows that by eliminating the Kokang, they can weaken other groups including the United Wa State Army (UWSA),” Aung Naing Oo said.

The MNDAA, the UWSA, the Kachin Independence Organization and the Maila or National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), the four groups that have turned down the junta’s proposal to transform their armies, have recently entered into an alliance called the Myanmar Peace and Democracy Front.

The junta, in April, had proposed to all ceasefire armed groups to transform their army into the Border Guard Force, a force to be controlled and administered by the Burmese Army. But many groups including the four alliances have rejected the proposal.

Aung Naing Oo said it is crucial for the junta to persuade the ceasefire groups to transform their armies, as it is crucial for the junta to conduct elections in areas controlled by the ceasefire groups.

“If the ceasefire groups are rejecting their plan, the credibility of the elections in 2010 will have a severe impact, though it will not be able to stop the junta from conducting it,” he added.

In a bid to eliminate Peng Jiasheng, the Burmese Army has ordered raids at his residence under the pretext of drug eradication. The police in Lashio had also ordered Peng and three others to appear before the court.

But when Peng refused to appear, the authorities issued an arrest warrant for him and three others including his younger brother, Aung Kyaw Zaw said.

“I don’t think they can catch Peng just like that. It will require a fight. But if there is any clash the Burmese Army can say it is between the Kokangs,” he added.

Meanwhile, Aung Naing Oo cautioned that the junta’s tactics of infiltrating into the Kokan leadership should be a step to watch for other ceasefire groups including the UWSA and the KIO.

“We have seen the split of the Karen National Union and how the junta has played its role. Now, it is very likely that they will further move on with their plans for other groups,” he added.

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