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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2252

Myanmar President fails his pledge as another year faded away

By – Zin Linn

Within a couple of days, the year 2013 will be concluded and pass on its unfinished tasks and experiences into the realm of the New Year 2014.

In 2013, Government of Myanmar has been struggling to reach a nationwide ceasefire in order to conclude the civil war which started in 1948 and damaged the nation’s dream of building a peaceful and prosperous federal union. But, it occurs with little hope and transfers the task into the period of another year.

Let’s have a look into dying year. On the first day of year 2013, President U Thein Sein had sent a New Year message to the then parliament session in Nay Pyi Taw, as said by the state-run media.

The president emphasized that the new political culture has taken place, in company with other political developments in 2012. This new political culture is no other than the practice of seeking a way-out through negotiation in the society. He also said that his government has decided to work with the parliament finding the middle ground generally in undertaking political, economic and social reforms.

In his 2013 New Year message, U Thein Sein expressed the important role of the parliament in the ongoing reform process. While going through democratic transition, he said the nation has tried to get better relations with the international community which has significantly facilitated the reform process.

Improvement of the peace talks is also a key political triumph of the country in 2012, he said in the message. He explained that peace talks were initiated with the 11 main ethnic armed groups and some ceasefire agreements were reached with 10 armed groups. According to his message, the government firmly believes to proceed from ceasefire agreements to political dialogue with the aim of resolving ethnic conflicts in the country permanently.

At one point, U Thein Sein clearly mentioned concerning the fierce war against the Kachin rebels. He expressed his view in his message: “I would also like to say that the door is always open for the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO)/the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) to discuss ceasefire terms and to have meaningful political dialogue with the government. While the Government is striving to achieve peace in the country with our utmost efforts, the Tatmadaw (Army) has not only made sacrifices in blood and sweat for the security of the State but also done everything they possibly can to make positive contributions to the peace process.”

He also mentioned in his 2013 New Year message that the various peace committees have tried to do their best to set up genuine trust between the government and ethnic armed groups. Additionally, he said that in order to achieve durable peace and to design and implement the plans for rehabilitation and development works after the achievement of peace, the government has recently established the Myanmar Peace Center.

Moreover, he gave details about the government’s economic reforms such as the introduction of a floating exchange rate, financial sector reforms, the creation of an investor friendly business environment, the resuscitation of the tourism sector and the creation of safeguards to ensure that business practices do not damage the environment.

Despite the consequences of political, economic and social reforms, the country has learned from the facts and the troubles associated with the Letpadaung Taung copper mine project, land rights, riots in Rakhine State and the breakdown of peace in Kachin state, he said.

He also promised his government has to seek advice from the parliament regularly to carry out political, economic and social reforms. The government will try to function more effectively and efficiently in the future by means of the legislative experience, he guaranteed via his message.

President U Thein Sein expressed his strong will to improve the state of the rule of law and eradicate corruption in the country. He and the members of parliament will also carry on difficult task to create good governance and clean government, he added in his message.

However, year 2013 is about to wrap up its chapter. People consider the president’s last New Year message as nonrepresentational expression since it was far away from the real-life state of affairs. Why? Even though President U Then Sein was sending his message to the Union Parliament, the fierce offensive against the KIO had been constantly continuing along with air-strikes.

It was intolerable since the government had used not only heavy artillery but also enforced gunship-helicopters and jet-fighters in January 2013 military operation against the ethnic Kachin rebels. The news concerning government airstrikes was hitting the headlines through the news media during New Year period in 2013.

Although there were a series of ceasefire talks during the year 2013, the battle hymns are still echoing in the ethnic territories especially in Kachin and Shan states. On the eve of Christmas occasion, December 24th saw severe hostilities break out between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and government forces in Bhamo district of southern Kachin state, quoting KIA officials the Kachin News Group reported.

The fighting which lasted most of the day took place at Nam Lim Pa, a village in Man-si township that was taken over by government forces in November. The fighting involved troops from KIA 12th Battalion and unknown units from the government army, the commander of 12th Battalion, Major Labang Jawn Awng tells the Kachin News Group.

“The fighting which involved small arms and artillery broke out after we attacked government troops whilst they were bathing. Explosions from the artillery were heard more than 50 times during an hour and half period,” Major Labang Jawn Awng said.

In Northern Shan state, a truck with over 30 government soldiers was targeted by remote controlled mines on the Mandalay-Muse road, said a senior officer with the KIA 4th Brigade. The truck which originated in Muse appeared to be heading south to Kutkai. The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the attack was carried out by KIA 9th battalion.

The incident took place near Nam Hpa Lun village. It appeared that five government soldiers were injured in the attack, the KIA officer said. Five trucks with government reinforcements arrived at Man-Loi village near Nam-Hpa-Lum several hours after the KIA mine attack, local eyewitnesses tell the Kachin News Group.

The last few weeks have seen an upsurge in fighting in northern Shan state in an area controlled by the KIA's 4th Brigade. This includes territory traverse by twin pipelines supplying oil and gas from Rakhine coastal region to China’s Yunnan province.

Hence, several analysts believe the unending war in Kachin territories is quite a hostile offensive rather than a defensive battle as the government says. Fighting is ongoing in Kachin and Northern Shan State in the face of government peacemaking pledges to the United States and the EU. All the battles have occurred in KIO’s territories, including some areas occupied by government troops after a 1994 ceasefire agreement.

If this is the case then people would be able to label the president’s New Year message in last January as a premeditated misrepresentation.

- Asian Tribune -

Myanmar President fails his pledge as another year faded away
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