KPF Colonel detained by Burmese Authorities after conflict over position change

Mon 09 Nov 2009, IMNA
According to an insider, after a disagreement on this morning between the Karen Peace Force (KPF)’s Second Lieutenant Colonel Saw Lay War and Central Committee (CCM) member Saw War Chait, Burmese authorities in Three Pagodas Pass have taken the Colonel Saw Lay War into temporary custody.

The disagreement reportedly ensued after the former individual learned of the latter’s usurpation of his Second Lieutenant Colonel position within the KPF. Saw Lay War’s removal from power reportedly occurred as a result of his opposition of the Burmese government’s offer to turn the KPF into a Border Guard Force (BGF).

“When Saw War Chait arrived to inform him of the position change, Saw Lay War told him without a letter from the [Burmese government’s] Southeast Commander, he would not accept the position change. Then Saw War Chait threatened him with a gun.” This KPF insider informed IMNA that the fight concluded with Saw Lay War’s being detained by Burmese authorities, a development that has concerned many KPF members.

“This order came from the South East Commander [Thet Naing Win]. We heard that Saw Lay War didn’t accept the BGF [offer]. So they took him from his position,” claimed IMNA’s source from the KPF.

According to Karen News, the Karen Peace Force (KPF) was established in 1997, when Lt. Colonel Saw Thamu Hel, the commander of Brigade 6 of the KNLA, surrendered to the State Peace and Development Council along with 300 men. As the KPF’s Second Lieutenant Colonel, Saw Lay War controlled an area stretching from Anankwin village in Three Pagoda Pass to KPF Brigade no 3. Central Committee Member Saw Warr Chait currently controls Yetagon village, located 9 miles south-east of Thanphyuzayart Township.

According to a KPF member interviewed by IMNA, following Saw Lay War’s arrest and detainment by the Karen National Union (KNU) in July of this year, many KPF members became suspicious that the Lieutenant Colonel was in league with the KNU; his leadership has been disputed by KPF members ever since. An Information officer from the KPF seconded this claim, and informed IMNA that many members of the Karen Peace Force have opposed Saw Lay War’s high-ranking position within the KPF since this summer.

According to a Kaowao News Group article from May 9th of this year, on March 30th of 2009, South East Asia commander Maj. Gen.Thet Naing Win met with KPF authorities to discuss the group’s conversion into a Border Guard Force. The meeting included such figures as KPF leader Saw Thamu Hel, his associate Saw Daw Daw, Secretary Mahn Aung Thin Might, Central Committee member Saw War Chait; the conference also included battalion commanders Second Colonel Saw Aoo Bar, Second Colonel Saw ell Say and Second Lieutenant Colonel Saw Lay War.

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