Amid Tensions, Some UWSA Troops Leave Mongla

By Lawi Weng 10 November 2016

More than 100 United Wa State Army (UWSA) troops left posts in the Mongla region of eastern Shan State recently taken from the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), according to local sources.

Amid high tension in the region, many UWSA troops remain after some 1,000 soldiers took key mountains posts from the NDAA on Oct. 8.

The UWSA has defied an order from the Burma Army to withdraw all troops by Oct. 27.

Three tanks, three trucks, two cars, and 150 UWSA troops left Mongla positions on Nov. 8, according to a short post on the Facebook page of the NDAA—more popularly known as the Mongla Group.

The post said that after a meeting between the two “brotherhood troops,” some members of the UWSA left Mongla.

An unnamed source close to the UWSA confirmed with The Irrawaddy that some troops had left, but not all.

“The Burma Army did not withdraw their troops, but some Wa troops have withdrawn,” said the source. He added that the UWSA would continue to operate bases in Mongla as they had done since the October operations.

The UWSA and NDAA are longtime allies—both groups sprang out of units of the Communist Party of Burma when it imploded in 1989—but relations have become tense and are being closely monitored since the UWSA took the key army bases.

Occupying members of the UWSA said they would only withdraw troops after receiving orders to do so from senior officers but that they would not fight unless the Burma Army attacked.

A divide between the two groups became visible during the 21st Century Panglong peace conference hosted in Napyidaw in late August and early September this year.

The NDAA engaged positively in the peace process led by State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, but the UWSA delegation left the conference early, citing unequal treatment.

Burma Army Sgt Pho Si stationed on the border of Wa territory said some UWSA troops withdrew between Nov. 7-9 and that the military was closely monitoring UWSA movements.

He also said that Chinese authorities visited UWSA-controlled territory on Nov. 3 and that they also met with Mongla leaders.

The Mongla group requested that all UWSA troops withdraw as local residents were living in fear and their livelihoods had been affected.