Than Shwe retires as Myanmar military chief

April 5, 2011 - 0:0

YANGON (AFP) – Myanmar strongman Than Shwe, who ruled with an iron fist for almost two decades, has retired as head of the military after handing power to a nominally civilian government, officials said Monday.

The postman-turned-dictator last week disbanded the junta, the State Peace and Development Council, following November polls marred by the absence of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and complaints of cheating and intimidation.
“Senior General Than Shwe and Vice-Senior General Maung Aye retired on March 30 after handing over power to the new government. They are staying at their homes in Naypyidaw. We cannot say their plan for the future. So far they are taking a rest,” a Myanmar official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The army hierarchy retains a firm grip on power in the resource-rich Southeast Asian country, and many analysts believe 78-year-old Than Shwe will have a significant role behind the scenes.
“Although they are retired, they will give some advice when the government asks for it,” a second official said.