Burma's Than Shwe Chooses Himself for President

Burma's military junta strongman, Senior-General Than Shwe, has reportedly drawn up a draft outlining his lineup of the future ruling hierarchy, some two weeks ahead of the opening session of Parliament on Jan. 31, according to sources in Burma's administrative capital, Naypyidaw.

Than Shwe has reportedly penciled himself in as President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.

However, the junta's No.2, Vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye, is reportedly set to retire from office for reasons of ill-health.

The military regime's Secretary-1 ex-Gen Tin Aung Myint Oo is reported to be one of two vice presidents. The junta's No.3, ex-Gen Shwe Mann is to be appointed as the Chairman of the Union Hluttaw [parliament], one of the most powerful posts under the 2008 Constitution. Prime Minister Thein Sein, who is also the chairman of the junta's proxy party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), will hold onto the party leadership position, the sources said.

Lt-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, the current Joint-Chief of Staff (Army, Navy, Air Force) is reportedly set to become the Commander-in-Chief, while Maj-Gen Soe Win, the Chief of the Bureau of Special Operations-6, is to be appointed Deputy Commander-in-Chief.

Lt-Gen Myint Aung, who was reportedly in line to be Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, will now take the position of Minister of Defense, while Lt-Gen Ko Ko, who was said to be in line to be Deputy Commander-in-Chief, is now set to become the Minister of Home Affairs.

Despite the authenticity of the leaked information and the reliability of its sources, The Irrawaddy cautions that any speculation of the divisions of power in Burma is very difficult to ascertain as every and any decision can be taken, modified or reversed at any time by one man, the dictator Than Shwe.

In late August, an extensive military reshuffle took place when several older military generals were replaced with younger ones, starting with the military's third-highest ranking position of Joint-Chief of Staff. At that time, the junta's top two generals, Than Shwe and Maung Aye, reportedly resigned from the military. Later, they appeared in public still in military dress and addressed as Commander-in-Chief and Deputy-Commander-in- Chief of the Armed Forces.

However, military sources in Naypyidaw said Than Shwe reportedly told his spiritual leaders and close friends and relatives in July that he wanted to take a rest from leading the country. His wife Kyaing Kyaing disagreed that he should retire and argued that he still had "a lot of work to do for the country."

"What we know is that he is not fit and needs to rest," said a military source. "But his family won't let him – especially his wife, his daughters and his favorite grandson. They simply can't face losing power."

The official added: "You have to understand that our leadership prides himself on being unpredictable."

Reprinted from The Irrawaddy, with which Asia Sentinel has a content-sharing agreement