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Burma closes river ports to Thailand ahead of election

File photo of refugees fleeing fighting in Myawaddy to Thailand in 2012. (PHOTO: Reuters)

Burma has closed all of its temporary border ports and checkpoints along the Moei River opposite Thailand’s Mae Sot, Phop Phra, Mae Ramat and Tha Song Yang districts of Tak province ahead of the 8 November elections, reports said.

Only the official border checkpoint at the Thailand-Burma Friendship Bridge between Mae Sot and Myawaddy remains open.

About 20 temporary river ports are affected. The transport of goods through these ports has been suspended, starting 3 November, until after the elections at various levels in Burma on 8 November have been concluded. Only local people residing along the river can cross the border through these ports.

As a result, the friendship bridge at Mae Sot has become unusually congested with a lot of cargo stalled on the Thai side of the border.

It was reported that the temporary closure of the river ports is to prevent some ethnic minority groups from crossing the border to disrupt the elections.

Security has been stepped up on the Thai side of the frontier with patrols deployed by the 4th Infantry Regiment and 35th Rangers Regiment and border patrol and provincial police.

 

This article was originally published in Bangkok Post on 3 November 2015.