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   ( BOXUN Received S.H.A.N. & Burma's News Published by Burma's Chinese Maung Chan 貌强 )

   On May 21, Shan State National Army (SSNA) led by Col Sai Yi and Shan State Army South (SSA -S) led by Col Yawd Serk merged and agreed to struggle for the restoration of sovereignty and rights of self-determination of the Shan State together. It is significant for the SSNA has been a ceasefire army, which has agreed to find political solution peacefully together with the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) or the ruling military junta for almost a decade.

   Col Sai Yi said that it wasn't the SSNA who had thrown the ceasefire agreement overboard and that the SPDC's pressure to surrender or disarm his troops, coupled with its rejection of federal solution has prompted him to join the SSA -S, which is in open armed conflict with the SPDC. The detainment of Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) leader Khun Htoon Oo and other prominent leaders in February is a systematic crackdown or dismantling of the Shan and other non-Burman ethnic nationality groups' genuine federalism aspiration and their wish for peaceful political settlement.

   It is an open secret that the junta is determined to hold on to political decision-making power and is in no way accommodative to the establishment of a genuine federal structure with equality and rights of self-determination for all peoples residing within the country. Nevertheless, the political parties, ceasefire armies and community leaders have opted to give the fake SPDC's overture of democratisation process a try, which - even the chances are slim - might evolve into a more inclusive participation of all stakeholders.

   Now even the pretence of SPDC's reconciliation is gone and projecting its overall supremacy and an all out elimination of its oppositions is beginning to unfold. Its pressuring of the ceasefire groups to surrender, without political settlement, is a part and parcel of crushing all Burman democratic elements and the non-Burman ethnic nationalities' resistance to its rule.

   Another factor is that the SPDC is deliberately creating a sort of common enemy for the Burma army to overcome the division within its rank and file, due to the dismantling of General Khin Nyunt's military intelligence set-up, a few months ago. There was even suggestion that the dismantled military intelligence units could be behind the recent bombing in Rangoon, even though they are not the only suspects that could have a hand in it. Given such circumstance, the multi-faceted conflicts within the country are programmed to escalate, if the SPDC refuses to mend its way of "total elimination" and projecting "political dominance at all cost". It is high time that the SPDC starts to think optimistically and safeguard the welfare of the people by conducting an all-inclusive dialogue with the democratic oppositions and non-Burman ethnic nationalities. The United Nations, the European Union and even the ASEAN have time and again made known that they will be only too happy to help make this reconciliation process a reality.

   But if the SPDC insists to hold on to power at all cost, without accommodating the people's aspiration for democracy, equality and rights of self-determination, Burma will continue to be the backwater of the region and might even be on its way of becoming a "failed state".

   Sai Wansai

   General Secretary

   Shan Democratic Union

   Dated: 24 May

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