Burma: Open split in Burmese Generals’ regime

On Tuesday 19 October, the prime minister of Burma, Khin Nyunt, was forced out of power by the army’s generals and put under house arrest. According to government sources, Khin Nyunt was: "Permitted to retire due to his health situation".

On Monday, according to other sources inside the country (called Myanmar by the regime), troops loyal to the army general, Maun Aye, raided the headquarters of the military intelligence, headed by Khin Nyunt. Nyunt belonged to a part of the military regime which, in contrast to the leading general, Than Shwe, was arguing for a "softer" policy towards the opposition and Aung San Suu Kyi and towards foreign capitalist investors.

A split at the top of the military junta has been growing for some time with Khin Nyunt controlling the military intelligence and Than Shwe the army. Now the split is in the open, it will have reverberations all the way down through the military apparatus and in society as a whole.

The removal of Khin Nyunt might seem to slam shut the door on any hopes for the democratisation and opening up of the country’s economy. But the generals in control have no solution to the economic, social and ethnic problems that Burma is facing. New battles will follow among the ruling elite itself and could open the way to mass struggles developing from below of workers and of youth.

They will need to organise and to base themselves not only on a rejection of the military junta but also on the struggle for a socialist alternative to the false promises of what a capitalist democracy could bring.

We have prepared a document outlining the background to these latest developments. All comments welcome.

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October 2004