Kokang armed group calls for talks with government


Kokang fighters are now calling for dialogue with the government. Kokang fighters standing outside a deserted market as a convoy carrying diplomats and journalists visit the Myanmar-China border town Laukkai, Myanmar on September 8, 2009. Photo: Khin Maung Win/EPA

The Kokang fighters are calling on the Myanmar government to enter into dialogue as soon as possible as fighting continues in the troubled Kokang region, according to a spokesperson for the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army.

U Tun Myat Lin, a spokesman for the Kokang group, told Mizzima on February 22 that political dialogue needs to be held as soon as possible.

He said the political problem should be solved by political dialogue.

“We always want to engage in dialogue. With this issue, we did not get any help from the Chinese central government or the Chinese provincial government. Our troops cannot enter into China,” U Tun Myat Lin said.

Since the fighting broke out on February 9, 72 fighters from the Kokang renegade group, seven Tatmadaw officers and 47 lower-ranking soldiers, a government police officer and another seven policemen were killed in the fighting, according to the office of the Myanmar commander-in-chief.

The government army has announced that in addition to the Kokang renegade group, the Kachin Independence Army, Ta'ang National Liberation Army, Shan State Army, Arakan Army and the United Wa State Army took part in the fighting.

U Tun Myat Lin disputes the government tally, telling Mizzima that only seven Kokang fighters were killed and all of their bodies were retrieved.

“None of our fighters has been kept as prisoner by the other side. We’ve ordered our troops not to impose a burden on the people. During the fighting period, we protected about 800 people who fled to the Chinese border area,” he said.

From 6 am to 9 pm on February 21, fighting took place in Phone Shwe Kyam and Kone Kyam, and the Myanmar government used four aircraft to stage air strikes, according to the Kokang group.

In a press conference held at the office of the commander-in-chief in Nay Pyi Taw on February 22, Lieutenant General Mya Tun Oo said that government forces had launched attacks in tandem with air strikes using helicopters.

Meanwhile, the Myanmar government is continuing the long process of discussion with 16 ethnic armed groups aimed at signing a nationwide ceasefire.

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