With the looming threat of civil war, hundreds of people from southern Shan State (under the UWSA) and hundreds more of Mon (from New Mon State Party territory) have already fled towards the Thai border. The Karen Information Center says 300 Karen have also fled their homes on 27 and 28 April.
In another sign of mounting tension, China has deployed as many as five brigades of the People’s Liberation Army, or 5,000 troops, along the country’s southwest border with Burma.
The junta’s efforts to bring ceasefire groups under their control are creating an atmosphere that is both divisive and confrontational. These are not conditions for inclusive and truly democratic elections. Ceasefire groups who continue to oppose the BGF proposal will not be able to form political parties and run in the elections, if they so desire. Furthermore, under the junta’s election laws, polling may not even be conducted in ceasefire areas, if there are adequate concerns over security.
If the junta is serious about conducting free, fair and inclusive elections, they must immediately cease hostilities against ceasefire and other ethnic groups, as one of the minimum conditions.