Than Shwe retires as head of Myanmar military

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.

Than Shwe, previously known as the ""senior general"", last week disbanded the ruling junta following a November election marred by the absence of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and claims of cheating and intimidation.
""The senior general and vice-senior general (Maung Aye) have retired already,"" a Myanmar official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity. ""They are going to have a rest now.""
A second official said: ""Although they are retired, they will give some advice when the government asks for it.""
The army hierarchy retains a firm grip on power in the resource-rich Southeast Asian country, and many analysts believe Than Shwe will retain a significant role behind the scenes.