‘Myanmar ex-junta chief Than Shwe really retired’

A top Myanmar official insisted feared strongman Than Shwe has no government role.

Updated: Nov 25, 2011, 18:36 PM IST

Naypyidaw: A top Myanmar official
on Friday insisted feared strongman Than Shwe has no government
role, in the first public confirmation that the former junta
head had released the reins of power.

"The senior general is really retired," Thura Shwe
Mann, lower house speaker told reporters after the final
session of Parliament in Naypyidaw.

After a two-decade reign marked by suppression,
isolation and deep paranoia about democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, Than Shwe officially stepped down from his role as head
of Myanmar`s "Tatmadaw" armed forces after the military junta
was disbanded in March.

The senior general, whose face had been emblazoned
across the front pages of state newspapers on an almost daily
basis, has been virtually invisible since then.

But few believed he had fully relinquished his grip on
the impoverished nation, despite controversial November 2010
polls which brought a nominally civilian government to power.

Thura Shwe Mann said the ailing 78-year-old is
"absolutely" not involved with the army-backed United
Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which won an
overwhelming majority in the election.

"To be more clear, the senior general is absolutely
not concerned with the party, nor the government, nor our
parliament, nor legislative organizations," he said, at the
first public press briefing the top official has ever given.

Analysts have said Than Shwe would retain some
influence over the government after the elections.

The military strongman knew the risk of retiring only
too well, having put his predecessor, the late dictator Ne
Win, under house arrest in 2002 after his family members were
convicted of plotting to overthrow the regime.

PTI