Myanmar junta leader rumored ousted in coup
By Aung Hla Tun
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Rumors swirled in army-ruled Myanmar
and neighboring Thailand on Wednesday that junta strongman
Senior General Than Shwe has been removed by the powerful army
Reports suggested Than Shwe, head of a military junta which
has ruled the former Burma in various forms since 1962, had
been ousted by number two General Maung Aye although Yangon was
calm and people said there was no extra security on the
A Thai intelligence official told Reuters his organization
was trying to determine the truth of the Rumors in the absence
of official comment from the Yangon government.
“We’ve heard Maung Aye has seized power from Than Shwe,
citing allegations of corruption and his involvement in illegal
trade of weapons,” he said.
He said Thura Shwe Man, the number three general in the
ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), was rumored
to have been assigned to investigate Than Shwe’s alleged
However, Thai Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon told
reporters: “So far, everything is just a rumor. I am still
sticking to my plan to visit Myanmar late this month.” Soe
Myint, editor of the pro-democracy Mizzima News Web site
mizzima.com, which is based in New Delhi, said there had been
tension among the generals for some time.
“From what I have heard, a five-member group of generals
led by General Maung Aye staged the coup during a weekly
cabinet meeting on Monday,” he told Reuters in the Indian
“The group accused Than Shwe of nepotism and said he was
incapable of running the country. Ever since, there has been a
total blackout and there has been no news from the cabinet
meeting,” Soe Myint said.
Than Shwe has not been seen on state television since
August 20 when he met U.N. envoy and former Indonesian Foreign
Minister Ali Alatas, but official newspapers on Wednesday
reported his message of congratulations to Ukraine on its
independence day .
Diplomats in Yangon said they believed he was on a
“We understand he is out of town and this rumor did not
start in Yangon, but outside the country,” a Southeast Asian
The opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) also
played down the Rumors.
“So far as we can confirm, this rumor is more likely not to
be true. The situation across the city is quite normal,” NLD
spokesman Nyan Win told Reuters.
But the Thai language newspaper Phuchatkan reported on its
Web site at manager.co.th that Maung Aye, the army
commander-in-chief had ordered Than Shwe detained at a Yangon
hospital on Tuesday.
“General Maung Aye has taken over power since midnight on
August 23,” the newspaper said, citing Thai intelligence
The former Burma has been ruled by the military in various
guises since a coup in 1962 and is reviled in the West for its
alleged human rights abuses and confinement of democracy icon
Aung San Suu Kyi since May 2003.
Yangon says it is moving toward democracy along a
seven-stage roadmap it unveiled in August 2003.
However, few take its rulers seriously, especially with Suu
Kyi languishing under house arrest and her party effectively
excluded from talks to draw up a new constitution, which are
set to resume in December.
Than Shwe, 73 and an expert in psychological warfare,
seized the junta leadership in 1992 with the help of General
Khin Nyunt, who was ousted as prime minister and military
intelligence chief last October.
The Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma reported on its
Web site, dvb.no, on Monday that Than Shwe’s son-in-law, Teza,
was being investigated for corruption.