Than Shwe retires as head of Myanmar military

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.

File photo of Myanmar's General Than Shwe, who has retired as head of the military after ruling with an iron fist for almost two decades

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.

AFP

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