February 7th, 2011

MYANMAR/BURMA — From my point of view, this news ought to go without saying, yet it can be good to remind those often distracted by world events — Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, etc., etc. — that the charade continues in Myanmar.

From Channel News Asia:

Myanmar may have announced a new president this week, but analysts say the country’s ageing junta chief will still pull the strings in the new political system.

Than Shwe, who began his authoritarian rule in 1992, will try to ensure his own safety by maintaining his influence behind the scenes after the rise of his key ally Thein Sein to president, according to experts.

The exact retirement plans of the ageing postman turned psychological warfare officer remain shrouded in mystery.

But if anyone was under the impression that he had quietly faded into the background with the selection of a new political leader, a prominent message on the front of the main state newspaper served to underline his strength.

The squat septuagenarian was pictured Saturday in full military uniform, chest bristling with medals but without the customary dark glasses, above the announcement of the country’s new president.

“Maybe whoever is in charge of the newspaper they just wanted to confirm that Than Shwe is still the boss,” said Thailand-based Myanmar expert Aung Naing Oo.

Described by critics as brutal, paranoid and heavily influenced by astrology, Than Shwe swept his enemies from key positions after taking power, including purging Prime Minister Khin Nyunt in October 2004.

Brutal? Check. Paranoid? Check. Heavily influenced by astrology? Check. I have no doubts that he is a swinish dictator who will give up his country when his bank account is pried from his cold dead fingers.

Do what you can to make this a good morning, Myanmar.

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