Myanmar's military junta has persuaded two ethnic minority armies to transform themselves into "border guard forces," an important step toward holding a peaceful general election next year, state media claimed Nov. 11. Ceremonies presided over by Myanmar generals were held Sunday to officially convert the armies for the Kachin ethnic minority in the northernmost state of Kachin and the Kayah ethnic group in the eastern state of Kayah. All the new border forces would receive salaries, uniforms and other benefits afforded to the Myanmar military, the government mouthpiece said. They were the first of 37 semi-autonomous minority group militias to agree to turn themselves into border guard forces under the command of the regime instead of local leaders. It was not clear whether all members within these two groups had agreed to join the guards. (DPA)

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