Wednesday, August 22

Here are the "Main Players" in the military junta in Burma:

Than Shwe
Senior General Than Shwe, 73, is the head of the ruling junta and controls the army. He is the most hard-line leader, strongly opposed to allowing any political role for opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
After working in the Burmese postal service, Than Shwe joined the army at the age of 20 and his career included a stint in the department of psychological warfare.
He has acted as Burma's head of state since 1992, and was initially seen as more relaxed than his predecessor, General Saw Maung. Some political prisoners have been released, and human rights groups were allowed to visit Burma.
But he continues to suppress all dissent, and oversaw the re-arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi in 2003.
He is said to be superstitious and to regularly seek the advice of astrologers.

Maung Aye
Maung Aye is also a career soldier and the second most powerful man in the country.
He is believed to have established strong ties with Burma's many drug lords in the Golden Triangle while operating as a colonel in the late 1970s and 80s, before he joined the military leadership in 1993.
He has a reputation for ruthlessness and xenophobia, and is also staunchly opposed to allowing Aung San Suu Kyi any future role.
He is also rumoured to be a hard drinker.

Soe Win
Lieutenant General Soe Win, 58, is seen a hard-line operator with close links to Than Shwe. He succeeded Khin Nyunt as prime minister in 2004.
Some diplomats and dissidents believe that, as a key figure in the Union Solidarity and Development Association - the civilian wing of the junta - he was behind a bloody attack on Aung San Suu Kyi's convoy in the north of the country last year, which led to the opposition leader being taken back into house arrest.
Earlier in his career, he commanded an infantry division which helped crush the democracy party in 1988 following Aung San Suu Kyi's overwhelming victory in national elections.
He joined the Defence Service Academy in 1965, and quickly worked his way up through the military ranks. He joined the junta in 1997, and was appointed as Secretary-2 of the council in February 2003, and Secretary-1 in August of the same year, replacing Khin Nyunt, who became prime minister.

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