Tough at the Top
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Saturday, March 23, 2019


Tough at the Top

By Shawn L. Nance/Rangoon FEBRUARY, 2005 - VOLUME 13 NO.2


Prime Minister Soe Win may follow predecessor Khin Nyunt into the wilderness


While reported differences between the Burmese regime’s top two leaders, Snr-Gen Than Shwe and Dep Snr-Gen Maung Aye, remain the focus of speculation in Rangoon, the fate of Prime Minister Lt-Gen Soe Win is also intriguing. Rumors also abound about what exactly is happening to his disgraced predecessor, Gen Khin Nyunt.


Soe Win’s unexplained disappearance for more than two weeks in January, and his low-key public image since are also fodder for tea-shop gossip. An earlier story had it that he had either been sacked or killed during an early-February gunfight at the War Office. BBC (Burmese Service) even reported military sources as saying the junta had already chosen his successor. Although Soe Win publicly resurfaced in late January, dramatic rumors about him, as well as his junta colleagues, persist.


Soe Win, Khin Nyunt behind bars: Will he join him?


Sources close to the junta say that while most of the gossip is unfounded, Soe Win  is in “serious trouble” with the regime’s Number One, Than Shwe. He is also thought to be at odds with Maung Aye. This is supposed to have begun in May 2003, when Soe Win ordered a deadly attack on opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters in Depayin, Sagaing Division.


He kept both Maung Aye and Khin Nyunt in the dark about plans for the attack, said a Western diplomat in Rangoon. A European diplomat believed Khin Nyunt, also military intelligence chief at the time, was only informed the afternoon before the bloody incident, and was deeply concerned.


For now, Soe Win remains the country’s prime minister and heads several national committees. He has only barely reemerged in the state-run media, attending a graduation ceremony in Rangoon in late January, and congratulating Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on his reelection in early February.


A journalist in Rangoon, however, says this is only a token gesture on the junta’s part to present an image of stability. His picture has not run for weeks in the regime’s mouthpiece, New Light of Myanmar.

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