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Myanmar Chief Reportedly Ready To R

Subject: Myanmar Chief Reportedly Ready To Retire

>From The Japan Times; 20 April 1997 (Asia-Pacific)


BANGKOK (Reuter) A Thai newspaper Saturday quoted Prime Minister Chavalit
Yongchaiyudh as saying his Myanmar counterpart, Gen. Than Shwe, is
considering giving up his top position.

Chavalit said he believed Than Shwe did not want to continue in the position
and was thinking of retiring, according to the report in the
English-language newspaper The Nation. Than Shwe is chairman of Myanmar's
ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council, or SLORC. 

But Than Shwe could not yet quit due to problems with a reshuffle in
Myanmar's lower-level military hierarchy, Chavalit was quoted as saying.

"He (Than Shwe) is thinking of retiring, but there are some hitches at the
lower level, which require the further rearrangement of officials," Chavalit

"Gen. Than Shwe does not want to stay on in his position, which is somewhat
like the case of Gen. Saw Maung. These people are not bad people," Chavalit
said Friday on a visit to Kanchanaburi, near Thailand's western border with

Saw Maung headed the SLORC when it took power after crushing prodemocracy
street protests in 1988 in which thousands were killed or imprisoned. But he
quit as SLORC's top general in 1992.

In late 1988, Chavalit visited Myanmar to meet the country's generals
despite an internationally imposed isolation of the country when the
military seized power. The Thai premier plans to visit Myanmar in the near
fortune, the newspaper reported without giving further details. 

Some diplomats and analysts have speculated that there might be a split
within the secretive SLORC between hardliners and moderates and that could
lead to a restructuring of Myanmar's leadership in the future. 

Than Shwe is considered a moderate leader within the SLORC, diplomats said. 

Myanmar has recently been hit by religious unrest, and a bomb attack at the
home of the SLORC's hard-line secretary, Gen. Tin Oo, which killed his daughter.