Fri 28 May 2010
Filed under: Inside Burma
During its four-monthly meeting in Naypyidaw this week, Burma’s military junta reportedly decided to reshuffle its regional military commanders and other senior military posts.
Military sources in Napyidaw said at least five of the Tatmadaw’s (Burma’s armed forces) thirteen regional military commanders will be affected by the coming reshuffle. And according Burmese military observers, six of the most senior regional military commanders are likely be promoted following the four-monthly meeting.
The senior commanders expected to be promoted are: Maj-Gen Wai Lwin of the Naypyidaw Command, Maj-Gen Aung Than Htut of the Northeastern Command, Maj-Gen Thet Naing Win of Southeastern Command, Maj-Gen Tin Ngwe of the Central Command, Maj-Gen Thaung Aye of the Western Command and Maj-Gen Khin Zaw Win of the Coastal Command.
“It is quite likely they [the senior commanders] will be promoted, as junior officials are waiting to take over their position,” said Win Min, a Burmese researcher on Burma military affairs. “They could be promoted as chiefs of special operation bureaus, chiefs of other posts in the war office in Naypyidaw, or other minister posts.”
Of the regional command posts, the one most likely to be reshuffled is that of the chief of military affairs security (MAS), formerly known as military intelligence. Military sources said Lt-Gen Ye Myint, the chief of the MAS, has become unpopular with Snr-Gen Than Shwe, the junta leader and commander-in-chief of the Tatmadaw, for failing to convince ceasefire ethnic groups to join the junta’s Border Guard Force plan.
During the last four-monthly meeting in November, Than Shwe reportedly told Ye Myint that he must successfully handle the ethnic group issues or be replaced.
Brig-Gen Myat Tun Oo, the commander of the 101 Light Infantry Division in Pakokku, who was previously assigned to talk with the Karen National Union over a ceasefire deal, is expected to be appointed to a leadership position on the Border Guard Force issue, said military sources. It is unclear, however, whether Tun Oo would replace Ye Myint or they would work together.
Also on the agenda at the four-monthly meeting is the question of which military officials will be assigned to the military’s allocated seats in parliament at the time of this years election and which will become members of a yet to be formed military commission.
Although Than Shwe, 77, vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye, 72, the junta’s No. 2 ranking official, and other aging top generals may retire from their military posts in the future, they are likely to manage the country’s military affairs through the the new commission, which observers liken it to the State Peace and Development Council.
Another issue expected to be decided and announced following the four-monthly meeting is the reshuffling of current government ministries.
Although Burmese officials told a US delegation earlier in May that Prime Minister Thein Sein and other top ministers would remain in their posts until the next government is formed, sources said some ministers who are members of the prime minister’s Union Development and Solitary Party could resign from their government positions next month.
“The order [for the ministers to resign] is expected to be issued by Naypyidaw in early June. Director-general and managing directors could become temporary ministers,” said a source from Naypyidaw.
Than Shwe is attending the four-monthly meeting, which as of Friday was still ongoing.
“The four-monthly meeting will last for almost this entire week. It is expected to be finished on Saturday as all military commanders are scheduled to come back to their bases on Sunday,” said a military source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Irrawaddy correspondent Min Lwin contributed to this story.