Shan army initiates peace process with field Burmese units

The Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS), commonly known as the SSA South, recently issued a directive to its field units to make direct contact with their immediate Burmese army units as part of an effort to avoid further clashes, according to Sao Yawd Serk, the SSA South’s top leader.

“One reason for the directive is most of the Burmese units have left it to their superiors at the regional headquarters to notify the SSA of its planned patrols and their headquarters does not usually inform the SSA’s liaison office of their movements,” Yawd Serk explained. “Inevitably there were clashes leading to unnecessary losses on both sides.”

Sao Yawd Serk and Gen Soe Win (Photo: Jastin Minn)

There has been more than 100 military encounters between the two armies since the ceasefire agreement was signed on 2 December 2011.

“So far, many Burmese units have responded, particularly those far from their regional headquarters. They said they were only doing their job and had no wish to fight. They accordingly agreed to notify the local SSA units through civilian contacts.”

To date, the joint ceasefire monitoring committee agreed by both sides since May 2012, has yet to come into being. Maj Lao Hseng, the RCSS/SSA spokesman, says it will be one of the topics the RCSS/SSA team hopes to discuss with Burmese authorities on its next trip to Naypyitaw and Rangoon.

“We don’t have any immediate plans to withdraw from any area that we have been operating before the ceasefire,” Yawd Serk added. “If we do, there must be a give-and-take between the two sides.”

Both the government and the armed opposition movements, particularly the Karen National Union (KNU) and the RCSS/SSA, have stated that the long-awaited political negotiation should begin before the end of the year, following a nationwide ceasefire to be witnessed by world leaders.

Both sides are expected to discuss the details of the text sometime this month.


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