Is Burma’s former Prime Minister Khin Nyunt to be freed soon?
|by Salai Pi Pi|
|Monday, 26 January 2009 22:20|
New Delhi (Mizzima) – Rumours that Burma’s military junta will soon free its detained officers above the rank of Colonel to involve them in the ensuing election, is making the rounds in military circles in Burma, a source in the military establishment said.
The source said the junta is planning to release former Military Intelligence (MI) officers of ranks above Colonel, who were arrested, charged and detained along with the MI chief and former Prime Minister Khin Nyunt.
“Some family members of former MI officials are expecting their release,” the source told Mizzima.
The source added that the release is likely to include the former MI chief Khin Nyunt, who is currently under house arrest.
According to the source, who declined to be named, General Khin Nyunt, who was dismissed and arrested on charges of corruption in 2004, will be used to contest the election along with the recently release Sandar Win, daughter of former military dictator General Ne Win.
Khin Nyunt was tried in a Special Tribunal inside Insein prison in Rangoon and was sentenced to 44 years on corruption charges in 2005. However, it is widely believed that he is being put under house arrest instead of being detained in prison.
While Mizzima was unable to make an independent verification of the rumours, sources said it is spreading like wild fire in military circles in Rangoon.
A Thailand based Burmese military expert Htay Aung said, while he is unaware of the rumours, he does not rule out the possibility of the release of Khin Nyunt as the ruling junta does not act in keeping with the law.
“Since the law of the country is in the hands of regime, they can do whatever they want to. Sometimes speculations could also be true,” Htay Aung said.
In Burma, whose military rulers keep a tight hold over freedom of expression and information flow, rumours are common, and in many cases, tends to bear a high percentage of truth.
Htay Aung said he has heard that the regime had occasionally secretly allowed the former Intelligence Chief Khin Nyunt to go out despite being kept under house arrest.
“I have heard that the regime often allowed him [Khin Nyunt] to meet some guests,” Htay Aung added.
Link to 2010 election
According to the source, rumours are spreading that the military regime is convincing General Khin Nyunt and the recently freed Sanda Win, daughter of the former dictator General Ne Win, to form a political party to contest in the ensuing 2010 elections.
Khin Nyunt, after he took over as Prime Minister in 2003, announced the seven-step road map to democracy that the present regime is still implementing.
According to the roadmap, a general election is in slated for 2010.
Htay Aung, however, dismissed speculations on Sanda Win and Khin Nyunt teaming up to form a political party to contest the elections, saying, “The regime will not allow their enemy to take over power.”
According to him, the Generals in power including Snr. Gen Than Shwe consider Khin Nyunt dangerous for the military rulers, and does not prefer having him on their side.
He, however, said, if Khin Nyunt is to be freed, the generals might be thinking of using him to negotiate with cease-fire groups, whom Khin Nyuint, during his tenure as the MI chief, convinced to stop fighting.
“Compared to the leading generals of the regime, he [Khin Nyunt] has strong influence over the cease-fire groups,” said Htay Aung. “So they might want to reuse him to handle them [cease-fire groups].”
Sources close to the ceasefire groups said, the Burmese military regime has recently stepped up pressure on cease-fire groups to disarm and form political parties to contest the elections.
However, major ceasefire groups such as the Kachin Independent Organization (KIO) and United Wa State Army (UWSA) said they will not surrender their arms though they do not oppose the junta’s planned elections.
Possible Fresh crackdown
The source, further said, while rumours of the possibilities of Khin Nyunt being freed are spreading, military supremo Snr. Gen Than Shwe is still nervous about the possibilities of Khin Nyunt’s followers remaining in the army.
Than Shwe’s fresh suspicions about Khin Nyunt followers, might lead to another brutal operation within the military in the form of a crackdown on Khin Nyunt’s associates, the source added.