Kokang rebels urge China mediation to end clashes with Myanmar soldiers
Iran Press TV
Wed Mar 4, 2015 4:17PM
Myanmar's ethnic Kokang rebels have called on China to mediate in peace negotiations with the government after weeks of deadly clashes.
"We suggested to the government to hold discussions as we want to end the fighting and solve the conflict by political means," Htut Myat Lin, Kokang rebel spokesman, said on Wednesday, adding, "It is better if China is involved as a negotiator."
However, Myanmar's government has not responded to the request over China's mediation.
On March 2, the government said it would not open talks with the rebels.
Myanmar's government has also said it suspects that the Chinese side of the border provides the Kokang rebels with arms, food and medical care.
The Kokang rebels claim they are supported by an alliance of 16 ethnic armed groups.
"We are hoping to solve the problems along with other member groups," Lin stated.
The origin and depth of the crisis
The Kokang rebels, formally known as the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), are an ethnic group living in a self-administered area on the restive Myanmar-China border.
The MNDAA seeks to retake the Kokang self-administered area, which was under their control between 1989 and 2009.
Fierce fighting, centered on the town of Laukkai in Kokang, has surged in the remote and rough region since the Kokang rebels launched a series of surprise attacks on February 9.
In an attempt to end decades of ethnic conflict, Myanmar's government has signed ceasefire deals with rebel groups over the past three years.
Nearly 80 Kokang rebels and 60 soldiers have been killed since the wave of unrest broke out.
The conflict has also displaced tens of thousands of people along the border on Myanmar's side. At least 30,000 civilians have also fled Myanmar across the border into southwestern China.
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