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Spy chief cements control in reshuf
- Subject: Spy chief cements control in reshuf
- From: moe@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Sat, 21 Nov 1998 22:22:00
Subject: Spy chief cements control in reshuffle
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BURMA [Greman Press Agency]
Spy chief cements control in reshuffle
By BRUCE HAWKE in Rangoon
Burma's intelligence chief, Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, has used a recent
leadership reshuffle to cement his position at the head of the most powerful
bloc in the Government, according to analysts.
Under his effective control, the junta - criticised around the world for
gross human rights abuses - seems set to embark on a campaign to try to gain
legitimacy both at home and abroad.
A newly appointed foreign minister is expected to lead an international
public relations offensive under General Nyunt, who is first secretary of
the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).
Inside Burma, General Nyunt may be preparing to set up a political party to
counter the popular opposition group of the Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
The move could even pave the way for limited parliamentary representation -
a "shamocracy" in the words of a foreign banker - where 51 per cent of seats
would be reserved for the military or military appointees.
With national strongman, General Ne Win, now believed to be on his deathbed,
and the ailing SPDC chairman and Prime Minister, Senior General Than Shwe,
taking a limited role in politics, General Nyunt has quickly risen to the
top of the country's hierarchy.
General Nyunt, a protegee of long-time leader Mr Ne Win, staged what was
widely regarded as a palace coup in November last year, when he ousted most
of his Cabinet rivals.
Even his greatest threat, the army chief, General Maung Aye, lost his post
as deputy defence minister when the portfolio was replaced with that of
General Nyunt now either chairs or sits on at least 15 working committees.
Though he holds no portfolio, he addresses and controls every Cabinet
meeting. The notification of the reshuffle last weekend was signed by
General Nyunt, according to dissident groups.
His biggest problem has been his lack of standing within the army due to his
lack of field experience, and resentment in some quarters over his efforts
to build closer ties with China.
To gain a better foothold in the military, General Nyunt has handed a deputy
premiership, one of three such posts, to a close associate, Military Affairs
Minister Lieutenant-General Tin Hla. General Hla played a pivotal role in
the brutal repression of pro-democracy demonstrators in 1988.
On September 18, Rangoon announced the formation of a 16-member political
policy committee chaired by General Nyunt. Members include four senior
Cabinet ministers, the head of the Rangoon army regional command and senior
members of the feared Directorate of Defence Services Intelligence, the
secret police widely accused of torture and extra-judicial executions.
Exiled Burmese dissident and academic Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe believes the new
committee is a precursor to General Nyunt setting up a political party and
introducing reforms intended to outflank Ms Suu Kyi's National League for
Democracy, Burma's largest legal opposition party.
- Deutsche Presse-Agentur