Myan­mar or­ders re­newal of state of emer­gency in trou­blespot north­ern area

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

Myan­mar has re­newed a state of emer­gency in a restive north­ern re­gion bor­der­ing China, state media said Wed­nes­day, ex­tend­ing army con­trol over the area dur­ing cru­cial Novem­ber elec­tions.

Fierce fight­ing be­tween troops and eth­nic Chi­nese rebels erupted in Fe­bru­ary in the Kokang re­gion of Shan state, caus­ing tens of thou­sands to flee their homes and an­ger­ing Bei­jing when Myan­mar’s air force dropped bombs in Chi­nese ter­ri­tory and killed sev­eral civil­ians.

Kokang “re­mains un­able to re­turn to nor­malcy in terms of ad­min­is­tra­tion, peace and tran­quil­ity and rule of law,” ac­cord­ing to the state-backed New Light of Myan­mar news­pa­per.

The re­port said the state of emer­gency, which be­gan in mid Fe­bru­ary and ex­pired on Mon­day, had been ex­tended un­til Nov. 17 by an or­der from the pres­i­dent’s of­fice.

The area will re­main un­der di­rect mil­i­tary con­trol dur­ing cru­cial Nov. 8 polls seen as a test of the coun­try’s emer­gence from decades of junta rule.

Spo­radic civil wars have gripped Myan­mar for some seven decades as mili­tias in re­sourcerich and eth­ni­cally di­verse bor­der ar­eas bat­tled for greater au­ton­omy.

Fight­ing has spiked in re­cent years, de­spite the ef­forts of a new quasi-civil­ian regime to ink a na­tion­wide cease-fire, with ma­jor bat­tles in north­ern Kachin and Shan states that have dis­placed tens of thou­sands.

Peace talks ear­lier this month out­lined a frame­work for what would be a his­toric deal, but ne­go­ti­a­tions stum­bled on which rebel groups should sign.

Observers say the gov­ern­ment has re­jected calls from a coali­tion of eth­nic armies to in­clude Kokang’s Myan­mar Na­tion­al­i­ties Demo­cratic Al­liance Army (MNDAA) in the na­tion­wide ceasefire deal, along with com­bat al­lies the Arakan Army and Ta’ang Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army (TNLA).

Another meet­ing is ex­pected in the com­ing weeks, but observers have warned that time is run­ning out be­fore elec­tions that are likely to re­shape the po­lit­i­cal land­scape.

The U.N. Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on Myan­mar, Yanghee Lee, this month raised con­cerns that thou­sands of peo­ple could be dis­en­fran­chised in con­flict ar­eas, “where elec­tions may be can­celed for se­cu­rity rea­sons,” and called for more trans­parency on the poll pro­ce­dure.

Moun­tain­ous Kokang is known for its strong bonds with China — lo­cal peo­ple speak a Chi­nese di­alect and China’s yuan is the com­mon cur­rency.

The gov­ern­ment has ac­cused rebels of be­ing en­meshed in drug smug­gling.

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