One of the topics covered by the Wa leader during his speech on the 23rd anniversary of the Wa mutiny that overthrew the Communist Party of Burma’s leadership on 17 April was its defense capability against attacks by hostile forces, said sources returning form the ceremony held in Mongpawk, on the Sino-Burmese border.
Zhao Zhongdang, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the United Wa State Army (UWSA), who read out the message by the ailing Commander-in-Chief Bao Youxiang, said. “The defense of the Wa territory in the southern sector is capably handled by the 468th Brigade. Its capability is such it can now even defend the area against air strikes, in the event that peace is interrupted.”
The unit’s air defenses however were not on display at the festival ground where assorted heavy weapons were shown to the admiring public.
“Ceasefire or not, our ultimate reassurance is our readiness,” he was quoted as saying. “We therefore cannot afford to go slack on recruitment or training.”
The ceremony was attended by some 20,000 people including officials from Chinese narcotics control, World Food Programme (WFP) and National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) of Sai Leun. A senior Chinese police officer from the drug suppression unit in Kunming was seen seated next to Bao.
A 4 lane tarmac road constructed by Thai engineers between Panghsang, the Wa capital in the north, and Mongphien on the border with the NDAA, is due to be completed soon, according to the sources.
Mongpawk, seized by the Wa during the days of the CPB, is a sub-township of Mongyang township, according to government designation. The 2008 constitution has granted the Wa 6 townships, 4 under Wa control (Mongmai, Pangwai, Napharn and Panghsang) and 2 under Burma Army control (Hopang and Markmang).
UWSA leaders however say the Wa could do without Hopang and Markmang, but not without Mongpawk, which serves as a link to its ally NDAA.
The Wa, like the NDAA, have signed three agreements with Naypyitaw: ceasefire, non-secession from the union and to consider participating in the country’s parliamentary system.
Naypyitaw’s chief negotiator U Aung Thaung had already sent an invitation to Panghsang on 28 March, but the latter has yet to reply, according to Radio Free Asia.