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Iran Press TV

No peace with Myanmar government in sight, powerful rebel group warns

Iran Press TV

Thu Feb 23, 2017 3:46PM

The head of Myanmar's most powerful ethnic rebel group has threatened to derail the government's wobbling push for peace as fierce fighting in the country's restive borderlands has reached a critical point.

Bao Youxiang, chairman of the United Wa State Army (UWSA), also known as the Wa, told dozens of armed ethnic leaders in Pangkham, a town in far eastern Shan State of Myanmar, on Wednesday that they must forge a "new path to peace."

"The ethnic fighting happening today is heavier than ever," Bao told the leaders, adding, "The many conflicts along Myanmar's road to peace ... mean the dawn can't be seen."

Among the attendees of the USWA-led meeting in Pangkham, the de facto capital of the UWSA's territories, were members of the Northern Alliance, a collection of four ethnic armed groups that has been locked in bitter conflict with the army since November.

The remarks come as fighting in northern Kachin State and northern Shan State along the Myanmar-China border is getting worse day by day.

Violent clashes between the army and ethnic minorities along the China border have intensified, displacing an estimated 20,000 people.

The UN rights envoy Yanghee Lee warned last month that the humanitarian situation in Kachin state was "now worse than at any point in the past few years."

The ongoing fierce clashes have also threatened the second round of peace talks slated for next month.

The UWSA is the most powerful of the country's ethnic rebel factions with an estimated 25,000 heavily-armed troops.

The group is accused of establishing their own mini-state on the Chinese border, and buying weapons with the proceeds from drug trafficking and producing.

Last August, the group's delegates stormed out of the first round of peace talks with the country's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, over a spat about their accreditation.

The developments come as the government's efforts to expand a ceasefire signed with some ethnic rebel groups in 2015 have faltered.

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