Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Burma Update

Sid Gau, time to come back from hiatus :)

1) An old one to start with Linky
Reshuffle in army ensures Myanmar chief superiority

More than 70 senior military positions have changed, and top brass including the army number three have retired from their posts to stand in the November 7 poll — the country’s first election in 20 years — unnamed officials said. But uncertainty remains over the future of reclusive leader Than Shwe himself, who has controlled the country since 1992. Initial reports on Friday said he had stepped down from the army — a move later denied by officials.

A source close to the regime has since said the 77-year-old and his deputy Maung Aye are “likely to retire soon”, but it is not known when they will shed their uniforms, or what roles they will then assume in the political sphere. “The country is awash with rumours,” said Myanmar academic Aung Naing Oo, based in Thailand. “There are more questions than answers right now.” High on the list is whether Than Shwe will take on presidency of the country after the elections, which have been widely dismissed by activists and the West as a charade to legitimise military rule with a civilian guise.

“Until the day when we have the next president in the not too distant future, only then will it be clear what he will do. He has a lot of different stuff up his sleeve,” said Aung Naing Oo. “What he has created is a huge monster out of this system and he has to remain in some official position to control this monster.” Whatever his next formal role, the feared septuagenarian is moving carefully to maintain strong support in both the army and the new parliament, according to Win Min, a US-based Myanmar analyst and pro-democracy activist.

“In making this biggest reshuffle, General Than Shwe appears to believe that it is better that he hand-pick the new generation of military leaders whom he considers to be totally loyal to him before the elections,” he said. Win Min said the paranoid ruler could be sidelining officials who are more loyal to number two Maung Aye. This would not be the first time he has manipulated his political and military rivals to maintain a stranglehold on power: in 2004 he sacked and then jailed his own prime minister, the reformer Khin Nyunt. “By retiring many senior officers to run in the elections, Than Shwe also appears to believe that he can control the electoral process and its outcome in a way to make sure many of these retired officers will win,” Win Min added.

Myanmar’s all-powerful army is assured a quarter of the seats in the new legislature, in addition to the military retirees who will contest the vote as civilians in the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).

2) Mizzima is awash with rumors Linky

Mizzima has learned from military sources that Burma's military dictator Senior General Than Shwe will officially resign his post in September. The ageing dictator will be replaced as head of the Armed Forces by General Thura Myint Aung, a close ally in his 50's. Our sources have also confirmed that the regime's second in command, Vice Senior General Maung Aye, will also follow Burma's notorious strongman into official retirement. Maung Aye, widely known for his alcoholism and loyalty to Than Shwe will be replaced by the former Chief of the Bureau of Special Operations Lt. Gen Ko Ko. According to sources, while it has yet be announced by Burma's state owned media General Min Aung Hlaing has already been promoted to become the junta's third ranking member, Joint Chief of Staff of the combined Army, Navy and Air Force. This powerful position was formerly held by the recently retired General Thura Shwe Mann. Quarter Master General Thiha Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo will soon be relived by former Naypyidaw Command head Maj. Gen. Wei Lwin.

Most of the senior officers holding the position of Lt. Gen. have already resigned, and have been replaced by Maj. Gen. rank officers, many of whom were regional commander chiefs. It is expected that many of Burma's newly resigned senior officers will contest Burma's upcoming November election. An election which many observers expect to be rigged.

Below are the names of other newly promoted senior officers and their rankings:
Current Post --- Former Post
1) Joint Chief of Staff of the Army, Navy and Air Force --- BSO 2 chief - Lieutenant General Min Aung Hlaing
2) Quartermaster General --- Naypyidaw Command chief Major General Wei Lwin
3) Adjutant General --- Coastal Command chief Major General Khin Zaw Oo
4) Military Appointment General --- Rangoon Command chief Major General Win Myint
5) Rangoon Command --- LID 77 chief Colonel Tun Than
6) Military Intelligence Headquarters --- Southwestern Command chief Major General Kyaw Swe
7) Chief of Military Ordnance --- Deputy Defence Minister Major General Thein Htay
8) BSO 1 - Kachin State, Mandalay Division, Chin State, Sagaing Division --- Northwestern Command chief Major General Myint Soe
9) BSO 4 - Karen State, Mon State, Tenasserim Division --- Southeastern Command chief
Major General Thet Naing Win

BSO – Bureau of Special Operations
LID – Light Infantry Division

3) Wow --- I am left speechless!

Burmese strongman and former Senior General Than Shwe is preparing for a five-day state visit to China. According to the Chinese news service Xinhua, the visit, on which Than Shwe will be accompanied by his wife, is scheduled for September 7 to 11. Having last visited China in 2003 as chairman of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), the upcoming sojourn comes shortly after several senior members of Burma’s armed forces abruptly retired their fatigues and declared themselves civilians in apparent preparation for the country’s November general election. Xinhua reports the latest tête-à-tête comes at the behest of an invitation extended to the Burmese leader from Chinese President Hu Jintao.

4) Meanwhile, some good movements on the Indian side, as ephemeral as they seem:

Manipur will import 300 metric tonnes of rice from Myanmar from this month to meet the scarcity of rice in the State, official sources said today. The State Government has received the nod of the Centre to import the rice from the neighbouring country. Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Y Erabot yesterday inspected godowns of Food and Civil Supply department in the border town of Moreh in Chandel district through which the rice would be imported. Manipur Government principal secretary O Nabakishore and commissioner of the Consumer Affairs and Food and Public Distribution department P Vaiphei accompanied the Minister, sources said.

5) Linky

Trade ministers from the four northeastern Indian states bordering Burma are set to meet Burmese trade and investment delegates this month in the military-ruled country in a bid to boost border trade and overcome hurdles, an Indian Chamber of Commerce official said. The bilateral meetings organised by the chamber are to be held in Rangoon and Mandalay from September 13 to 16, attended by delegates of Myanmar (Burma) Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industries (UMFCCI) and the Burmese Foreign Affairs Minister Nyan Win, the chamber official said in Kolkata. The ministers and Burmese delegates will highlight border trade problems, attempt to promote a smoother trade relationship and look for fresh investments in each other’s countries, the official said. “We are taking representatives of four states bordering Burma – Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Mizoram,” the official said.
In 2001, a few items were added to the list and in recent years, the Indo-Burmese relationship has been strengthened significantly. On May 12, India added 18 categories for import and export to the permitted commodities, including bicycle parts, life-saving drugs, fertilizers, spices, incense sticks, salt and stainless-steel utensils. Manipur’s border post is Moreh, opposite Tamu in Burma, while Mizoram’s gate is at Champhai bordering Burma’s Chin State. The Indo-Burmese trade road No. 2, opened in 2004, linking Zokhawthar in Mizoram with Rihkhawdar in Chin State. Mizoram mainly imports blankets, leather shoes, slippers, life-saving drugs, fertilizers and livestock such as chickens, pigs and cows, said Lalrinliana Sailo, Mizoram Minister of Trade and Commerce, who will be on the Burma trip.

Meanwhile, Burmese and Thai ambassadors visited India in June and met Bijoy Krishna Handique, 75, India’s Minister of Mines and Minister of Development of the Northeastern Regional (DoNER), in New Delhi to discuss trade, tourism and road connectivity under the Kaladan River transport project. “The ambassadors are scheduled to visit Manipur and Mizoram from September 19 to 23,” S. C. Sharma Director of DoNER said. According to official statistics, Indo-Burma bilateral trade touched US$1.19 billion in 2009-2010, a 26.1-per-cent increase year on year. India is the fourth largest trading partner of Burma after Thailand, China and Singapore. Burma’s exports to India were US$1 billion while its imports from India were US$194 million, of a total of 1.19 billion in fiscal 2009-10.

6) Linky

State-owned oil companies Indian Oil (IOC) and Oil India (OIL) are said to be in talks with the Mumbai-based Essar Group to take up joint 20 percent shares in the shallow-water (A2) gas block. The Economic Times today reports that an Indian oil ministry official has confirmed recent visits to Essar by both IOC and OIL. “They are considering to jointly pick up 40 percent stake in Essar’s gas block,” he said. The field concerned is still said to be at the exploratory stage, with estimates of recoverable reserves yet to be determined.



At September 19, 2010 at 7:30 AM , Anonymous Al said...

India is bleeding cash via Myanmar to the Chinese. Theburmese need to imprt much more from India.


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