YANGON — The Myanmar Army and its subdivision Border Guard Force (BGF) have occupied a New Mon State Party (NMSP) outpost situated in the village of Kanalou in Mon State’s Kyaikmayaw.
Joint forces of the Kyaikmayaw-based Battalion No. 208 of the Myanmar Army and the Kada village-based BGF totaling more than 50 troops took control of the NMSP outpost on Saturday.
“Myanmar Army troops said that the NMSP outpost should not be there and that it must be stationed in the forest. The Tatmadaw troops searched the outpost and found a few NMSP military uniforms and a pack of bullets,” said a local villager on the condition of anonymity.
An NMSP official who also asked for anonymity confirmed that the outpost was occupied by the Tatmadaw, or Myanmar Army.
The Irrawaddy was unable to reach NMSP leaders for comment.
“As far as I know, the Tatmadaw and the BGF have told them to move from there. There was no clash. The NMSP left the outpost to avoid a clash. The NMSP has not yet filed a complaint. So, we have done nothing in response,” Dr. Shwe Khar, Secretary-1 of the Union-level Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee, told The Irrawaddy.
According to locals, NMSP troops left their outpost when they saw joint forces of the Tatmadaw and BGF approaching, avoiding a conflict. NMSP troops took down their flag and handed it over to the village administrator.
Locals said that the NMSP established its outpost in Kanalou village more than three years ago, though it was supposed to open it in Mt. Pein Ne, which is more than 10 miles from the village, according to a state-level ceasefire agreement signed between the NMSP and the government back in 2012.
The Tatmadaw and BGF forces have so far kept the outpost intact, said villagers.
The village has more than 420 households with a population of more than 1,900 people. The NMSP signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with the Union government on Feb. 13, 2018.
However, as the NMSP is not a member of the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee of Mon State, there is no platform for talks between it and the Myanmar Army in the case of engagement.
The NMSP has refused to join the committee because it was not allowed to join the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committees in Karen State and Tanintharyi Region where its troops are also based.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.