Myanmar says top general will not run in elections

Myanmar`s top leader Gen Than Shwe will bow out of national elections next month, but his role in the country`s political future remains unclear.

Last Updated: Oct 28, 2010, 16:52 PM IST

Hanoi: Myanmar`s top leader Gen
Than Shwe will bow out of national elections next month, but
his role in the country`s political future remains unclear, a
Southeast Asian diplomat said on Thursday.

The diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity on
the sidelines of an Asian summit in Vietnam, said Myanmar
Foreign Minister Nyan Win told his counterparts that the
longtime leader of the military-run country will not be on the
ballot during the country`s first elections in two decades on
November 7.

"He will bow out of the scene," the diplomat said,
citing what the Myanmar official said at an informal dinner
yesterday for delegates attending a summit for the Association
of Southeast Asian Nations. "He will not be a candidate in the
upcoming elections."

It was the first time the reclusive government
confirmed that Than Shwe would not participate in the national
polls. However, it was earlier believed that he would not run
because his name did not appear on the candidates` list.

Than Shwe has never spoken about his future and no
officials have ever broached the issue of his retirement or
whether he would run in elections. He is widely expected to
have some new role and title after elections. Many think he
could become the next president, which is not an elected
position.

Reclusive Myanmar put on a fresh face at an Asian
conference in Hanoi, unveiling a redesigned flag and new
national name less than two weeks before the long-awaited
polling. But many fear the makeover is merely a facade to mask
an election already being dubbed a sham.

The elections are supposed to be a big step forward in
the country`s so-called road-map to democracy following five
decades of military rule. But critics say the junta has
already taken steps to block transparency and ensure that the
military remains in power by repressing the country`s main
opposition party and limiting campaigning.

Democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, who`s been imprisoned
or under house arrest for 15 of the past 21 years, is expected
to be up for release on November 13, just six days after the
election. But Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo said
her fate still remains uncertain.

PTI