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Wednesday, September 26

Burma: Oh ho! The aged emperor is isolated!

" ... military analyst Win Min said the [Burma] junta was "clearly unprepared" for the protests. He said intelligence agencies were afraid to tell Than Shwe exactly how big the protests had become."

Gee, even Kimmie surfs the web. The really bad news about the general's extreme isolation is that it gives no opening for the protestors to set up a dialogue with the regime.
Part of the problem was that Than Shwe appeared to have no understanding of the hardships facing the people in Burma, ranked among the world's 20 poorest countries.

"Probably a large part of the officer corps that travels around the country understands what is happening but is afraid to tell the old man," he said.

The junta has ruled in total secrecy and near-isolation since it toppled previous dictator Ne Win during the 1988 unrest, with Than Shwe at the helm since 1992. But its isolation has grown over the last year since it moved to its new capital, Naypyidaw, carved out of the jungles near the once-obscure logging town of Pyinmana in central Burma.

In a typical display of Than Shwe's decision-making, he gave government workers just hours to pack and move from Rangoon in a surprise order on November 7, 2006 - a time ordained by astrologers, even though the new capital had only limited electricity, water or phone lines.

Inside Naypyidaw, the junta rules from a secret compound that few outside the regime have ever laid eyes on.

The only glimpse into the generals' lives there came from a leaked video of the wedding of Than Shwe's daughter, which showed the nation's elite in lavish mansions, drinking champagne for a bride dripped in diamonds.

Analysts say Than Shwe moved the capital partly out of fear of urban protests such as those that have taken place in Rangoon and cities around the country.(1)
1) AFP via The Australian
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