The Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), also known as the Shan State Army-South, announced last week that candidates can restart their campaigns in 16 areas under the group's control beginning 1 October. The announcement comes after campaigning in these areas was temporarily restricted due to what the group said were security reasons resulting from skirmishes with army troops.
The change in policy came about shortly after the RCSS's Kholem Township Liaison Officer and Gen Win Min Tun, Commander of the Kholem-based Central East Command, met in Kunhing on 30 September. During their meeting Gen Win Min Tun promised to control the military columns in order to prevent further clashes from taking place, according to a statement released by the RCSS
In its statement, the RCSS indicated that political parties are now free to carry out their campaigns and canvass for votes in the areas that are under its control, provided they inform the group's respective liaison offices. This change of policy appears to be because the group now has confidence that army columns will abide by the pledge made by General Win Min Tun.
According to Loilen residents, high tensions remain between the RCSS and the army in southern parts of Loilen Township in Southern Shan State. Government troops continue to be searching for RCSS troops using as many as ten regiments, villagers told the Shan Herald.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a village tract head told the Shan Herald that fighting broke out between the RCSS near Kutcho village south of Loilen town at around 8 pm on September 29th.
The Shan Herald was unable to contact an SSA spokespersons to inquire about these issues and the statement that the group released. The RCSS has yet to confirm whether it will sign a nationwide ceasefire agreement, a reluctance that appears to be a direct result of the recent skirmishes.
On 16 August, the RCSS had indicated via a joint statement released with three Karen armed groups, its willingness to sign on to a national ceasefire. The statement was released in conjunction with the Karen National Union (KNU), Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) and the KNU/KNLA Peace Council, prior to the latest round clashes breaking out last month.