Than Shwe to Head Extra-Constitutional 'State Supreme Council'

Thursday, February 10, 2011

RANGOON—Although the Burmese military regime said that it will hand over state power to president-elect Thein Sein and the new government on March 15, junta chief Snr-Gen Than Shwe has now revealed that he will personally lead a newly created council called the “State Supreme Council,” which as its name implies will be the most powerful body in the country, according to sources in Naypyidaw.

Two bodies have now emerged in the new government's administrative structure that observers say will have powers that reach—either directly or indirectly—above and beyond the powers of the new civilian executive and legislative branches. The first is the eight-member State Supreme Council, which is nowhere mentioned in the 2008 Constitution and will be led by Than Shwe. The second is the eleven-member National Defense and Security Council (NDSC), which is called for in the 2008 Constitution and will be led by Thein Sein.

“The State Supreme Council will become the highest body of the state. While it will assume an advisory role to guide the future governments, the body will be very influential,” said a source close to the military.

The members of the State Supreme Council will be: Snr-Gen Than Shwe, Vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye, Pyithu Hluttaw [Lower House] Speaker Thura Shwe Mann, President-elect Thein Sein, Vice President-elect Thiha Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo, former Lt. Gen Tin Aye and other two senior military generals.

As required by the 2008 Constitution, the NDSC will be comprised of the president, two vice presidents, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, vice commander-in-chief, and the ministers of defense, home, foreign affairs and border affairs.

Meanwhile, according to sources in Naypyidaw, Burma's ruling State Peace and Development Council will hand over power to the new government on March 15. The sources said that army commanders, heads of the military's Bureaus of Special Operations and retired generals are currently meeting to discuss the transfer of power to the new civilian regime in Naypyidaw, which will consist mostly of former generals.

According to sources close to the military in Naypyidaw, there is discontent among the military because the latest appointments of certain high-ranking military officials to major positions in the new government structure was apparently based on loyalty to Than Shwe rather than military hierarchy.

In particluar, Lt-Gen Thura Myint Aung was not chosen by Than Shwe as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and after complaining of being assigned the position of defense minister he was removed and placed under house arrest.


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