The Military: Unity Maintained

Southeast Asian Affairs, January 1, 2000 | Go to article overview

The Military: Unity Maintained


Despite anecdotal evidence of a power struggle between the army chief General Maung Aye and Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, there were no signs that this led to open conflict in 1999. After the infusion of new blood into the ruling junta in 1997, there were only minor changes in the executive during the year indicating relative stability and unity within the ruling group. In November, Brigadier-General Pyi Sone replaced Major-General Kyaw Than in the key commerce and trade portfolio. He is said to be a member of Khin Nyunt's clique. The sports minister, Major-General Kyaw Than, also retired in October.

The decisive question in the post-Ne Win period (the former leader turned ninety in June 1999) is whether the military can maintain unity within its ranks. Khin Nyunt, a Ne Win protégé, is seen as representing a more pragmatic and less xenophobic face of the military, but may be resented by other more "professional soldiers" who have combat experience. He is also understood to have backed a relatively restrained approach to dealing with the NLD and pushed for the country's membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). …

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