Myanmar military rule ends, but army retains grip | Pakistan Today

Myanmar military rule ends, but army retains grip

YANGON – Myanmar’s military made way for a nominally civilian government after almost half a century in power Wednesday, as the junta was disbanded and a new president talked of a “changing era.”
But the army hierarchy retains a firm grip on power in the resource-rich Southeast Asian country, and many analysts believe strongman Senior General Than Shwe will attempt to retain some sort of control behind the scenes.
The handover came after widely-panned elections last November – the country’s first in 20 years – which were marred by the absence of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and claims of cheating and intimidation. Quoting an order signed by Than Shwe, Myanmar state television reported the junta’s State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) “has been officially dissolved.”
Than Shwe, who has ruled with an iron fist since 1992, is apparently no longer in the hitherto most powerful position of head of the army. But Myanmar analyst Aung Naing Oo said: “Everyone will be required to report to him for quite some time.” He added that the handover was similar to the slow withdrawal of Than Shwe’s predecessor, late dictator Ne Win.
“We have not had any kind of democracy in the past 50 years so it is more like an experiment,” the Thailand-based analyst said. “There are more questions than answers.” The SPDC, previously known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council, or SLORC, seized power in 1988, but Myanmar has been under military authority since 1962 and the generals continue to dominate the impoverished nation.
Former prime minister Thein Sein, a key Than Shwe ally, was sworn in as president at the parliament in Naypyidaw on Wednesday.

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