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Than Shwe and deputy quit military in major reshuffle

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Burma’s junta leaders including Senior General Than Shwe, who holds the title of Commander in Chief of Defence Services, and his right-hand man, Deputy Senior General Maung Aye, resigned their military posts in a major reshuffle today.

Tswe_MgAyeReplacing them will be former Adjutant General Lieutenant General Thura Myint Aung and former Bureau of Special Operations (BSO) 3 chief Lieutenant General Ko Ko, who have become Commander in Chief of Defence Services and Deputy Commander in Chief of Defence Services respectively.

Former Bureau of Special Operations 2 chief General Min Aung Hlaing, has become the new No. 3 in command as the Joint Chief of Staff of the Army, Navy and Air Force. This powerful position was held until recently by General Thura Shwe Mann.

After Burma’s first nationwide elections in two decades arrive on November 7, the government will be formed by a civilian president chosen by the upper and lower houses following the nomination of three people. The two unsuccessful candidates become vice presidents.

The reshuffle means it is possible that the junta leader since 1992, Than Shwe, 77, can be president, while close allies Muang Aye, 72, and Thura Shwe Man, 62, vice presidents. If that happened, it would confirm the belief among internal and external Burma watchers that the polls represent a sham in which the ruling generals merely exchange uniforms for suits or longyis, and actually shore up their power further.

Around 27 military officials and government ministers including Prime Minister Thein Sein resigned from the military mid-year and formed the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), out of an often-violent social organisation known as the Union Solidarity and Development Association, proven to have been involved in physical attacks on pro-democracy activists, and sweet-heart business deals with the ruling junta. Stepping out of fatigues means the top leaders can contest the polls as USDP members.

Analysts said it was likely Than Shwe would remain head of state as leader of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) – the junta’s name for itself – until the president is selected after the election.

In the 1990 polls, Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi scored a massive poll win at the head of the National League for Democracy party, but the junta ignored the win, clung on to power, imprisoned thousands of NLD and other opposition party members, and flatly voided the result in March.

After this year’s polls, civilians will be lawmakers without the power to check military policy moves, as the armed forces are guaranteed 25 per cent of seats in all assemblies, and have reserved key ministerial posts.

The junta’s controversial 2008 constitution sets out how the vote will elect lawmakers for parliament, the senate and 14 regional assemblies, but not the executive branch of the government itself.

Naypyidaw sources said Thura Myint Aung will be responsible for filling the 25 per cent military quota, which will amount to hundreds of lawmakers in all three types of legislatures, as set out by the constitution. The charter was written after the junta held a widely condemned referendum days after Cyclone Nargis struck the Irrawaddy Delta in May 2008, killed at least 140,000 and left more than two million homeless.

Observers, rights groups, aid workers and foreign governments condemned the fact that the junta’ trucks carrying ballots throughout Burma could have been carrying much-needed water, food and shelter supplies to those stricken by the storm, which caused an estimated US$4 billion worth of damage.

General Thiha Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo, who vacated the position of quartermaster general in November, has been replaced by Major General Wei Lwin, former chief of the Naypyidaw Military Command.

At least 10 lieutenant generals have also resigned, to see their positions in the armed forces replaced by major generals including former military command chiefs.

It is predicted the officers will contest in the elections on November 7. Details of the latest reshuffling of Burma’s armed forces are still under investigation.

Below are the names of other newly promoted senior officers and their ranks:

Current Post Former Post
Joint Chief of Staff of the Army, Navy and Air Force BSO 2 chief - Lieutenant General
Min Aung Hlaing
Quartermaster General

Naypyidaw Command chief
Major General Wei Lwin

Adjutant General Coastal Command chief
Major General Khin Zaw Oo
Military Appointment General Rangoon Command chief
Major General Win Myint
Rangoon Command LID 77 chief Colonel Tun Than
Military Intelligence Headquarters Southwestern Command chief
Major General Kyaw Swe
Chief of Military Ordnance Deputy Defence Minister
Major General Thein Htay
BSO 1 - Kachin State, Mandalay Division, Chin State, Sagaing Division Northwestern Command chief
Major General Myint Soe
BSO 4 - Karen State, Mon State, Tenasserim Division Southeastern Command chief
Major General Thet Naing Win
BSO 2 - Shan State, Karenni State Northeastern Command chief
Major General Aung Than Htut
BSO 3 – Pegu Division, Irrawaddy Division Southern Command chief
Major General Hla Min

BSO – Bureau of Special Operations
LID – Light Infantry Division

Last Updated ( Saturday, 28 August 2010 18:42 )  

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