Hardliners gain strength in Myanmar

A moderate general ousted

Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt was the relatively moderate face of Myanmar’s military junta. His elevation to the position of prime minister a few months ago was already seen as a move to reduce his influence in the government. If this report from Reuters proves to be accurate, he may have lost more than just his job. The hardline faction (every junta has one) led by ‘Senior’ General Than Shwe seems to have further consolidated its hold on power.

“The Thai government has obtained additional information that General Khin Nyunt has been relieved of his premiership and placed under house arrest,” government spokesman Jakrapob Penkair told reporters.

“The person who signed the order said Khin Nyunt had been involved in corruption and not suitable to stay in his position,” he said. [Reuters]

Quite obviously, European and American efforts alone are quite unlikely to make any impact on the thick-skinned junta. ASEAN, which admitted Myanmar as a member, has the unenviable task of standing up for one of its own. China has the greatest leverage over the generals, but is hardly likely to preach democracy.

India may lack the influence China has, but must play its part in sending the right message to the leaders of the benighted country. Myanmar in its current state is an atrocity on its own people besides being a security problem for India, a deadweight around ASEAN’s neck and a collective blot on the conscience of the international community.

Background: The politics of institutional change in Myanmar.

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