Monday, March 21, 2011

UWSP conference ends on development note

Monday, 21 March 2011 17:56 Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The United Wa State Party (UWSP) pledged to work harder to develop the Wa Region but warned that if the Burmese junta attacks its territory, it will mount a vigorous defence, at the end of its five-day annual conference.

Two Wa soldiers, members of the largest,
most well-armed ethnic army in Burma.
Photo : AFP
During the conference, which ended Sunday in Pangsang, members heard reports and plans from 27 departments on how to develop the region, according to an UWSP official.

Party chairman Bao Yu Xiang, who attended the conference on Sunday, told Mizzima that the Wa army was ready to defend against any junta military offensive. The United Wa State Army, the armed wing of the UWSP, has rejected the Burmese regime’s order to transform itself into a Border Guard Force.

On March 16, Kyauk Win Kwan, the UWSP vice chairman, said the Wa can successfully avoid the junta’s orders to join the BGF.

The Wa army is well armed and has the capacity to defend its region, Aung Kyaw Zaw, an analyst based on the Sino-Burmese border told Mizzima. The UWSA has nine brigades and a total of more than 30,000 troops, he said.

Aung Kyaw Zaw said that during the coming year the Wa party hoped to take part in a political dialogue with the new parliamentary government.

Since 2005, the Wa army has stopped growing poppy to produce opium in the area and promoted growing alternative crops such as rubber and tea plants, according to a UWSA officer.

‘Because we do not grow poppy anymore, we had some financial problems but we overcame them’, he said. ‘Some Wa have earned a lot of money from rubber while some have not prospered from rubber fields. Some people allege that we are still growing poppy, but that’s not true’, he told Mizzima.

The UWSA separated from the Burma Communist Party in 1989 and signed a cease-fire agreement with the Burmese junta the same year.

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