8 January 2009
Burma Army holds talks with Wa
Kengtung-based Triangle Region Commander Kyaw Phyoe, during his recent whirlwind tour of the Thai-Burma border, had held a 4-hour meeting with Wa commanders at Hwe Aw, opposite Chiangmai’s Chiangdao district, according to border sources.
Hwe Aw, 25 miles north of the border, is where Wei Xueying, the younger brother of the Wa regional commander Xuegang, is based. Dinner was also served to the junta commander.
Details however have yet to emerge. The current dispute with the Wa over the presence of the latter’s troops at Pakhi, opposite Fang district, 160km north of Chiangmai, was certain to be one of the topics, according to border watchers.
The (UWSA) was just as sure to counter the Burma Army’s charge with one of their own: the presence of Burma troops at Boundary Post (BP) #2, also opposite Fang.
“The Wa had been collecting B 350 ($10) each from travelers using the BP-2 route to come to Thailand,” said a local Shan who was working as a guide for travelers. “But they stopped coming after Burmese troops set up another checkpoint on the route to collect an extra B 350 fee from them.”
The UWSA’s 248th Brigade had retaliated what it regarded as infringement by the Burma Army in their operative sector by sending its own troops to Pakhi where the Burma Army units were operating.
The controversy had reportedly resulted in an exchange of fire between the two on 21 December.
“They might also discussed recent Wa attempt to publicize its status as the Government of Wa State,” said a senior watcher.
In addition, the Burma Army had been negotiating with the Wa for consent to set up a heavy weapons unit on a hill between Hwe Aw and Nakawngmu, a village 2 miles further.
Kyaw Phyoe left for Monghsat on his way to Kengtung yesterday.
Tension between the two sides has been on the rise since Naypyitaw has pushed for Wa surrender before the 2010 elections. The Wa Self-Administered Region, as designated by the new constitution, had also failed to include Wa domains along the Thai-Burma border, as proposed by the Wa.