By Joshua Carroll
October 10, 2015
A rebel armed group in Myanmar says the government’s army is threatening to attack one of its key posts in a bid to coerce them to join a ceasefire accord ahead of a key general election next month, local media reported Friday.
The Shan State Progressive Party (SSPP) is one of 10 armed groups that have rejected an offer to sign a so-called Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement next week, leaving just eight willing to ink the deal.
Lieutenant Colonel Sai La said more than 400 government troops were stationed close to his group’s camp in Mong Hsu township, Shan state, the Myanmar Times reported.
“The camp is located near our headquarters. We can’t withdraw. If we do, the Tatmadaw [government army] can fire on or easily attack our headquarters. We would never withdraw from the security camp,” he said.
The ten groups’ refusal to sign has prompted many to brand the much-lauded ceasefire efforts a failure.
Government and rebel negotiators began talks after sweeping reforms launched by Thein Sein’s semi-civilian government, which came to power in 2011 when the junta stepped aside.
The government has been pushing to sign the deal before November’s election, which will be closely watched by its new western allies and seen as a test of the pace of political reforms.
But the regime has also refused to allow three groups that it has been fighting near the Chinese border to join the accord, angering other rebel groups.
Among the 10 who refuse to sign unless their allies are included too are large and influential militias like the Kachin Independence Army.
On Thursday the government controlled Border Guard Force clashed with a faction of another rebel group in south-eastern Karen state, the Democratic Voice of Burma website reported.
The “Commander Deaf’s faction”, an offshoot of the Karen Democratic Benevolent Army, has also been excluded by the government from talks, DVB said.
Fighting between the army and various militias seeking greater autonomy has raged in Myanmar for almost six decades.