By choosing a bona fide military man, General Mutu Saypo of the embattled Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the armed wing of the Karen National Union (KNU), to head the Central Executive Committee of the newest alliance, the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) yesterday, it seems abundantly clear the main concern of Burma’s non-Burman ethnic armed movements is the countrywide offensive expected to be launched by Naypyitaw, following the setting up of a “civilianized” government there.
More powerful than the UNFC-CEC is the Political Leading Body headed by the leathery Kachin Lt-Gen Nban La Awng, among others, assuring that the military wing will have more say.
However, the UNFC, whose 16 page-9 chapter-32 article constitution was ratified yesterday in a 5-day conference at an undisclosed venue along the Thai-Burma border, also provided for a political department with sub-divisions such as Legal Affairs, Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs, which is expected to serve as a political anchor for the grouping.
Though details are yet to be worked out, the 12 member alliance’s constitution envisages a 4 military region Burma:
- Northern Military Region - Sino-Burma border areas
- Eastern Military Region - Thai-Burma border areas
- Western Military Region - Indo-Burma border areas
- Special Military Region - to be named later
The Union Army, as the combined armed movements are to be collectively named, “is ready to admit any group that supports the alliance’s common aim to establish a genuine union and its newly approved constitution”, Nai Hongsa aka Nai Hantha, chairman of the conference organizing committee, who will also be serving as the UNFC General Secretary, declared.
Burma’s non-Burman ethnic opposition has already formed several coalitions, most notable of which include:
The organization-based National Democratic Front (NDF) formed in 1976
The state-based Ethnic Nationalities Council (ENC) formed in 2001
In contrast, the new coalition’s membership will be opened to all groupings whether they be state-based, organization-based or ethnic-based, according to its constitution.
It also welcomes movements like the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and Shan State Army (SSA) ‘South’ that are still taking up a wait-and-see stance to become associate partners.
The conference was jointly organized by Committee for the Emergence of Federal Union (CEFU), National Democratic Front (NDF) and United Nationalities League for Democracy (UNLD). It was participated by 15 groupings.
|Chin National Front (CNF
Kachin Independence Organization (KIO)
Kachin National Organization (KNO)
Karen National Union (KNU)
Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP)
Lahu Democratic Union (LDU)
National Unity Party of Arakan (UNPA)
New Mon State Party (NMSP)
Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF)
PaO National Liberation Organization (PNLO)
Shan State Progress Party / Shan State Army (SSPP / SSA)
Wa National Organization (WNO)
|Central Executive Committee|
Gen Mutu Saypo – Chairman KNU