World Bulletin / News Desk
Ethnic forces in Myanmar’s northeastern Kokang region have declared a unilateral ceasefire after four months of fighting against the military, withdrawing from positions near the border with China.
The Myanmar Times reported Friday that the National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) decided on the ceasefire after Chinese government requests for stability and the group’s concerns that ongoing conflict could impede general elections expected later this year.
However, a statement issued by the MNDAA said the forcess would continue to defend themselves against government security forces if attacked.
The Kokang Special Region has been under martial law since violence erupted in early February, displacing tens of thousands of people.
At least 200 have been killed on both the government and forces sides, according to government figures -- which fall short of the casualty count reported by independent media.
China has been calling for stability in the mountainous northeast, with diplomatic relations being strained as shells landed across the border in March and May.
Htun Myat Linn, MNDAA spokesman, told The Irrawaddy that the group does not wish to be blamed for obstacles to the elections, although many of the Kokang people are not considered Myanmar nationals.
“Our country will have an election, and this is important for the country,” Htun Myat Linn said Thursday. “We are worried that, because of us, this election will be stopped. We do not want this to happen.”
The group said it had pulled back from some positions around the 111 and 113 boundary markers.
An unnamed source close to the government, however, told The Myanmar Times that Myanmar’s army -- the Tatmadaw -- might ignore the ceasefire announcement with operations aimed at securing the Kokang region.
President Thein Sein had ordered the extension of a state of emergency in the region in mid-May.
The government had excluded Kokang forcess from peace talks that Thein Sein hopes will lead to a nationwide ceasefire agreement before the general election.Güncelleme Tarihi: 12 Haziran 2015, 11:43