Top official: Than Shwe still holds the reins

One year has gone and things are looking bright but no one should forget that the moon has its dark side too, according to sources to a number of top Naypyitaw officials, who claim Senior General Than Shwe who was supposed to have put himself out to pasture is still the real power especially when it comes to military affairs.


Senior General Than Shwe

“President Thein Sein wants the country to return to peace through negotiations,” the source who, as a former businessman, is close to bigwigs in the new capital. “But he still have little say in military matters.”


New military campaigns that were waged against the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), Shan State Army (SSA) North and Kachin Independence Army (KIA), groups that had concluded ceasefire pacts with Naypyitaw, were reportedly ordered by him. Before November 2010, the Burma Army had been fighting only with the Karen National Union (KNU), Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) and the Shan State Army (SSA) South.

Even after new ceasefire pacts had been signed in September with the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), their requests for the Burma Army to withdraw to their pre 2009 lines went unheeded. (The Burma Army built up new bases around the two allies’ areas after they turned down its April 2009 proposal to transform themselves into Burma Army-run Border Guard Forces.

The SSA North, during the 29 October peace talks, also reportedly requested the withdrawal of 4 new Burma Army bases around its Wanhai headquarters in Kehsi township. The Burmese delegates accordingly took note and promised a prompt response which never came. “All these show the final decision still rests with the Senior General,” he said.

According Irrawaddy’s Wai Moe, the Senior General who was said to have retired in March is still addressed as “Tat Choke” (Commander in Chief), while his successor Gen Min Aung Hlaing is being hailed as “Ka Choke” (Defense Chief).

A veteran newsman agreed. “Min Aung Hlaing is to Than Shwe what Saw Maung (the general who took power in 1988),” he said. “Outwardly Saw Maung was running the show. But it was U Ne Win who was directing things from behind the curtains.”

A senior official also wrote to the effect in Bangkok Post, 27 September, that the “open minded officials” could not go too fast, if they did, they might end up in jail.

“Every silver lining has a cloud,” the veteran newsman told SHAN.

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