General Than Shwe, in parliamentary 8 November 2010 elections Naypyidaw, Burma
General Than Shwe, the head of Burma with an iron fist since 1992, retired from the Army and retired to his home in the capital, leaving some doubt about the immense power he will continue exercise daily.
Than Shwe and his number two, General Maung Aye, officially left the ranks of the army on March 30, told AFP Burmese official sources.
"They live in their homes" in Naypyidaw, the capital, said one of them told AFP. "They're going to rest now. We do not know their plans for the future. "
"Although they retired, they will continue to provide advice to the government when he asked," said another source, confirming the theory that Than Shwe does not intend to disappear from the political scene.
The State Council for Peace and Development Council (SPDC), led by the officer of 78 years and presided over the destinies of the country, was officially dissolved last Wednesday, five months after parliamentary elections.
President Thein Sein, a former general and outgoing Prime Minister was sworn. And a new army chief was appointed in the person of General Min Aung Hlaing.
It remains to determine the weight of "advice" that Than Shwe is now supposed to distill the government.
His retirement has been no announcement by the official media. And several exiled Burmese media had reported in recent days the creation of a "Supreme Council of the State," absent from the Constitution, but that would bring together all the frames of the outgoing junta.
No source in Burma has confirmed to AFP.
"Let us first if he really retired," said an analyst in Rangoon. "I think it is likely to allow a legal basis to ensure its own survival."
Portraits of the chief continued to dominate some government buildings and the Burmese appeared Monday do not really know if it is still presided over the destiny of Burma.
"We dare not believe he retired," confessed an entrepreneur of 34 years, convinced that Than Shwe "retained the power behind the scenes."
Still, the new regime is emerging, with the reforms as envisaged in the 2008 Constitution.
National and regional parliaments are locked by the Solidarity Party and the development of the Union (USDP) and the military who hold a quarter of the seats in each chamber.
And all positions of responsibility within the executive and legislative branches at the top of the USDP and the military, have been entrusted to the faithful of the outgoing junta.
Many experts and many exiled dissidents explain that Than Shwe, to ensure its own security, has made it very difficult to bring about a strong man. But his departure opens up even a very slow uncertainties and possible reforms page.
Sign that there is hope, President Barack Obama should appoint the first U.S. special envoy to Burma, in the person of Derek Mitchell, current advisor to the Secretary of Defense.
Washington had begun in late 2009 a dialogue with the junta, while maintaining economic sanctions. A dialogue that has so far proved unproductive and the president wants to revive.
France has shown for his very conservative part. "The junta has not been dissolved, it has changed in nature," said Friday the French Foreign Ministry.