Email This Story :
Thailand has increased border security because of fears of ethnic unrest in neighbouring Burma, where the junta is preparing for the first election in 20 years, the army said Monday.
“We have stepped up security checks along the border to prevent any forces or people fleeing from the other side, and also to prevent people and weapons crossing the border from our side,” said Colonel Padung Yingpaiboonsuk.
He said the military would boost patrols along the border opposite Burma’s Karen state, where ethnic rebels continue to fight the government, alleging they are subject to neglect and mistreatment.
“We plan this operation until the [7 November] election ends but if the situation is not normal we may extend it,” Padung, a task force commander in the border province of Tak, told AFP.
Military-ruled Burma has been plagued by ethnic insurgencies in remote border areas for the six decades since British colonial rule ended in 1948.
Ahead of the 7 November poll, the regime has pressured armed rebels to transform into border guard forces under the control of the state army.
“There are some groups that have not agreed with this project, and that could lead to fighting,” said Padung. “We will not allow anyone to use our land as a base in order to create unrest in a neighbouring country.”
Last month the junta announced it was scrapping voting in swathes of insurgency-plagued ethnic areas – a move criticised as excluding millions from a poll already seen as undemocratic.
Western countries have widely criticised the vote as a sham designed to shore up almost five decades of military rule.