RANGOON — A draft resignation was leaked from the Wa National Organization (WNO), showing its plans to withdraw from the seven-member ethnic alliance the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC)
The WNO planned to tender its resignation in the coming days, according to a WNO spokesperson, and the date of submission was left blank on the leaked document.
“This is just a draft. We will have a meeting before making the final resignation. We don’t know how it was leaked. We’ll submit the resignation to the UNFC after our congress,” Major Ta Nyi Lu, joint secretary-1 of the WNO, told The Irrawaddy.
The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), which led the UNFC, also tendered its resignation from the ethnic alliance on April 29.
The WNO was a member of the Democratic Alliance of Burma (DAB), a pro-democracy alliance founded after the 1988 uprising and led by the Karen National Union (KNU), which later joined the UNFC after it was founded in 2011.
According to the draft resignation, it has become difficult for the WNO and its armed wing the Wa National Army (WNA) to continue cooperating with the bloc due to political and military changes in Burma.
The draft resignation also said the WNO was taking steps to merge with other Wa ethnic armed organizations into a single entity in response to the demands of Wa people and organizations.
Although the WNO did not reveal the details of the merger, sources close to the WNO said it would join with the United Wa State Army (UWSA). Sources speculate that the UWSA pressured the WNO to join forces as opposed to signing the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) with the government.
Ethnic armed group sources have speculated that the UWSA is also putting pressure on the Lahu Democratic Union (LDU) to join.
The WNO/WNA and LDU are based on the Burma-Thai border and are adjacent to the southern military area controlled by the UWSA. Experts suggest these groups are backed into a corner and will find it difficult to reject the UWSA’s demands.
“They [the WNO and UWSA] attempted to merge a long time ago. So, under the existing circumstances, they are trying again,” ethnic affairs analyst U Maung Maung Soe told The Irrawaddy.
Rumors have circulated that five members of the UNFC—the New Mon State Party (NMSP), Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), Arakan National Council (ANC), WNO, and LDU would sign the NCA.
The WNO/WNA was founded in 1976 and based on the Thai-Burma border in Shan and Karenni states.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.