Than Shwe retires as head of Myanmar military

Myanmar strongman Than Shwe ruled with an iron fist for almost two decades.

Updated: Apr 04, 2011, 11:15 AM IST

Yangon: Myanmar strongman Than Shwe, who ruled with an iron fist for almost two decades, has retired as head of the military after handing power to a nominally civilian government, officials said on Monday.

Than Shwe, previously known as the "senior general", last week disbanded the ruling junta following a November election marred by the absence of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and claims of cheating and intimidation.

"The senior general and vice-senior general (Maung Aye) have retired already," a Myanmar official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They are going to have a rest now."

A second official said: "Although they are retired, they will give some advice when the government asks for it."

The Army hierarchy retains a firm grip on power in the resource-rich Southeast Asian country, and many analysts believe Than Shwe will retain a significant role behind the scenes.

Bureau Report