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Published on Saturday, 19 January 2013 00:31
Armed ethnic groups are warning that Myanmar could descend into “civil war” if the government does not halt its military “offensives” in northern Kachin State, a joint statement released by three groups said.
The Wa, Mong La and Shan groups also called for a resumption of dialogue between the government and the Kachin Independence Army after a ceasefire was agreed on.
“We request to the government that it halt offensives against the Kachin Independent Army under the framework of non-separatism, and restart dialogue after reaching a ceasefire agreement,” the January 10 statement by Wa Special Region 2, Mong La Special Region 4, and the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army said.
The groups warned that conflict could trigger a return to the civil war that raged over 60 years and said they were also concerned that unity, peace and stability would be difficult to sustain as the country shifts from military rule to democracy.
Myanmar Peace Centre director Dr. Min Zaw Oo, however, said his independent organisation believed that the government would accelerate peace talks this year to end conflict with armed ethnic forces.
Clashes between government and KIA troops resumed in June 2011, ending a 17-year ceasefire. Nearly 2,500 small and large clashes have occurred since then, with some reportedly claiming civilian lives. The conflict intensified last month after the army told the KIA on December 23 to withdraw all of its troops from the Myitkyina-Bahmo route by December 25. The KIA rejected the ultimatum.