Selection Time Precedes Election Time in Burma
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Selection Time Precedes Election Time in Burma

By AUNG ZAW Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Although Burma's military regime has announced no election law nor declared the date of the poll it plans to hold in 2010, preparations appear to have begun in Naypyidaw.

Informed sources suggest that potential candidates for president, vice-president, commander-in-chief of the armed forces and defense minister have been chosen.

The current list may yet be modified before the election and some potential candidates in the list could be removed. All depends on   the regime leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe, who still calls the shots.

Than Shwe, who is in his late 70s, and his number 2, Dep Snr-Gen Maung Aye, who is only slightly younger, will retire soon after the election. Informed sources said that they are building lavish new homes in Naypyidaw for their retirement.

However, before vacating the throne, Than Shwe will make sure he and his family can live in safely, leaving his trusted officers in  high positions to ensure security.

Than Shwe has reportedly already endorsed the junta's No 3, Gen Thura Shwe Mann, joint chief-of-staff in the armed forces, to become president of post-election Burma.

According to sources close to the military elite, Shwe Mann, 62, will be nominated by the representatives of the military in the future Senate and House, to be formed after the planned 2010 election.

The military will receive 25 percent of the seats at the village, township, state, regional and district levels in the new governing body, according to the 2008 Constitution.

There will be three nominees for the presidency—one from the Amyotha Hluttawa (Nationlities Parliament or Senate), one from the members of the Pyithu Hluttaw (People's Assembly or House) and one from the militlary contigent of the two Hluttaws. The Senate and the House will then vote to choose the president.

Shwe Mann, a protégé of Than Shwe, has a reputation of being down to earth and a good listener, but he has yet to show his teeth on a broad range of social, economic and political issues. His vision of Burma’s future is unknown.

However, Shwe Mann increasingly oversees regular meetings on political and security affairs with high-ranking military officials in Rangoon and Naypyidaw—perhaps a further sign that Than Shwe will take a back seat after the election.

Shwe Mann and his wife are close to Than Shwe’s family on a personal level, undertaking shopping trips together to Singapore.

Recently, Shwe Mann was the subject of extensive news coverage focusing on his secret mission to North Korea in November.

According to the Constitution, one of the duties of the new president will be to head the National Defense and Security Council, which has the power to declare a state of emergency and nullify the Constitution.

Than Shwe's choice for one of the two proposed vice-presidents, according to  informed sources, is Maj-Gen Htay Oo, the minister of agriculture and irrigation and a key leader of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), the junta-backed mass organization.

Htay Oo recently visited Japan—displaying, according to military sources, all the qualities of a politician rather than an army officer.

The choice of the second vice-president is likely to fall to an ethnic leader. It's worth recalling that Burma’s first and second presidents were Shan and Karen.

Analysts ponder the question of who will become commander-in- chief of the armed forces.

Than Shwe currently holds Burma’s most powerful position in the armed forces and analysts say he will hand this position over only to his most trusted ally.

There appear to be plenty of subordinates who could fill the shoes.
They include Lt-Gen Hla Htay Win, Maj-Gen Ko Ko, Maj-Gen Tin Ngwe and Maj-Gen Kyaw Swe. All are close to Than Shwe and Dep Snr-Gen Gen Maung Aye, the current army chief and deputy to Than Shwe. 

Maj-Gen Tin Ngwe is said by analysts to be the front runner for the post of commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He recently accompanied Than Shwe when he made an official visit to Sri Lanka.

Born in Nyaung-Oo, in the central heartland of Burma, Tin Ngwe attended the Defense Services Academy Intake 22, together with Kyaw Swe, later serving as G-1 in the defense ministry. He is known to be loyal to Than Shwe and Shwe Mann.

According to the new Constitution, the commander-in-chief will control the ministries of defense, border affairs and home affairs, exercising wide executive powers.

Analysts also tip Lt-Gen Myint Swe, a Than Shwe protégé, as a  possible candidate for the post of defense minister. He attended the 15th intake of the Defense Services Academy in 1971 and is currently commander of the Bureau of Special Operations 5.

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George Than Setkyar Hiene Wrote:
Well. the line up is there.
Tin Aung Myint Oo has quit the outlaw gang, as I have learned earlier, though most qualified to succeed Than Shwe.
Now the top soldier has opted for a place in history as the bravest, in addition to a soldier and a gentleman, by leaving the thieving gang led by Than Shwe.
Certainly this sends chills down Than Shwe's spine, given Tin Aung Myint Oo's clout among Than Shwe's hordes.
Nobody can say for sure that Shwe Mann, Myint Swe, Htay Oo, Tin Ngwe amongst others would guarantee the old monk murderer's ass after 2010 elections.
Pity Than Shwe has no son like Lee Kwan Yew to take over the reins and cover his ass.
The old monk murderer will reap what he sows - dog eat dog policy - like his long gone dad Ne Win, whom he refused to give even a resting place even.
Than Shwe and his family will count themselves lucky if they are given even a place to rest in peace once the reins of power changes hands in the post-2010 election era.

timothy Wrote:
Where is the trust in this part of the cruel world Than Shwe has created and preceded by Ne Win?

Ne Win proved that there is no such thing as a trusted follower in this cruel and abnormal society of criminals. Ne Win thought he could trust Khin Nyunt for his safe retirement. He was wrong. How stupid he was to put his faith in Khin Nyunt.

Now Than Shwe the idiot would like to follow the same mistake. Where are his trusted followers? Who advises him to retire, renounce all his belongings, put on Buddhist monk robes and go away into the jungle to practice Vipassana meditation to wash his sins?

There is no one to give him real friendship advice. He can not trust anyone. He will retire to deepest layer of hell.

pLan B Wrote:
As SPDC march on towards "self legitimacy" to the beat of its own drum through the self serving constitution and the planned sham election:

1)The West and the opposition need to reflect seriously how and why events has progress to this stage where their opinions are nonplus.

2) Stop or reverse the major element that has driven this repressive SPDC to this present defiant form.

3) Anticipate with prudence for the next stage where SPDC can be influenced.

These can all be accomplish with input from available expats who see Myanmar as it is supposed to be as opposed to how the west would like it to be.

The count down is on. Prudence or realistic approaches have yet to be seen by the West's so called "engagement".

Already naysayers are writing off:
Albeit with inaccurate facts.
It's the people, not SPDC they must keep in mind.

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