Burma’s ruling military council has asked Thailand to inform the non-ceasefire Shan State Army (SSA) South of its desire to open peace talks with the group,

Junta holds out olive branch to SSA South
MONDAY, 21 SEPTEMBER 2009 15:14 S.H.A.N.
Options for druglord

In an apparent attempt to discourage alliance between the ceasefire groups who are at loggerheads with Naypyitaw over the proposed Border Guard Force (BGF) program, Burma’s ruling military council has asked Thailand to inform the non-ceasefire Shan State Army (SSA) South of its desire to open peace talks with the group, according to a reliable source close to the leadership.

This is the third time the movement have been offered by Naypyitaw to enter into negotiations for peace:
• The first meeting scheduled for 23 May 2007 did not take place as the two disagreed on the choice of venue.
• The second time was in last March when Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, on his return from Burma, said he had been approached by the Burmese authorities to ask the rebels for talks. “Nothing ever came out of it,” said the source, “as Bangkok was too embroiled in its own internal problems to bother with ours.”

The latest offer came right at a time Naypyitaw was engaged in massive military preparations around the United Wa State Army (UWSA) along the Sino-Burma border.

The SSA South has repeatedly called for a coalition against Burma’s military junta. The source however declined to say whether or not it has received a response from Panghsang, the Wa supreme headquarters. Border sources meanwhile say a recent close door meeting between the UWSA’s Thai-border based 171st Military Region and the Burma’s Kengtung-based Triangle Region Command had ended inconclusively. “The only choice appears to be to fight,” a Wa source was quoted as saying, “because the Burma Army said the BGF proposal was non-revisable.”

According to the proposal, each BGF will have 326 officers and men with 30 of the officers from the Burma Army and the rest from the ceasefire army concerned. Most ceasefire groups had turned it down. The result was the brief war with one of the Wa’s allies Kokang which ended in the defeat of Peng Jiasheng, leader of Kokang in August.

The 171st, with 5 brigades, is commanded by Wei Xuegang who is in Panghsang. Its day to day affairs are looked after by his younger brother and second in command Wei Xueying.

Wei, wanted both in Thailand and the United States, on drug charges and unwanted in China presumably to avoid ensuing diplomatic scandals, appears to have only two options:
• To fight
• To surrender and hope he is treated as former druglord Luo Xinghan, who is running a highly successful business in Burma, and not as his former boss and brother-in-law Khun Sa who died under house arrest in Rangoon in 2007

“No one else wants freedom more than me,” Khun Sa, who was also wanted in Thailand and the United States, once claimed. “Because if freedom is not achieved, there is no place for me to live.”

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