Friday, November 25, 2005

Burmese Government Withdraws to Jungle

The Generals who run the government of Burma have, for various reasons which we can only guess, moved the capital of the country into the jungle. This is a central location which will enable them to better control the tribes further north.

Government on the run;
Burma's top generals have finally begun their planned move to the hills North of Rangoon. For months Rangoon had been rife with rumours that the country's military rulers were planning to retreat to the hills in central Burma because of fears of a foreign invasion from the sea. This week deputy ministers have begun the major shift to the new government centre at Pyinmana.

More than two weeks ago the deputy interior minister cleared his desk in the ministry building ready to move. He is now installed in his newly completed offices, according to Burmese government sources. The ministers apparently are remaining in Rangoon for the time being and are slated to move by the end of the year.

Ten ministries have been relocated this week, including the interior, agriculture, forestry and power ministries. The government's Central Bureau of Statistics is also being transferred out of Rangoon. The second phase will begin at the start of next month follow by a further move at the beginning of January.

This is the start of a mass relocation of the Burmese government and military headquarters out of Rangoon. According to the blue-prints for the new complex, it is actually going to replace Rangoon as the country's capital.

"This is typical of Than Shwe's pretensions to be the new Burmese monarch. Like all the Burmese kings before him he is building a new palace-capital for posterity," according to a senior Burmese analyst, Win Min based in Thailand.

Burma's military rulers are preparing to relocate the country's centre of government inland for safety reasons, according to diplomats and government officials in Rangoon.

The military's headquarters, government ministries and the new parliament are all scheduled to be moved to an inland location within the next twelve months in what many in Burma are now calling "Escape City".
I'm not sure it's all about safety, although when you're paranoid I suppose everything is about safety.
The US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 reinforced the top generals' fear that the US might attack Burma, according to analysts. Burma's military strategists have long argued that the country's defences were vulnerable to an attack from the sea. Burma's top generals have always suffered from a siege mentality. "Than Shwe has a bunker mentality, and when he's completely secure he'll launch his offensives," according to the Burmese analyst, Win Min. "But a key strategic drawback of the site is its lack of access to the sea, it is not close to a port," he added.

Many analysts believe that the move is also intended to give the regime better access to the frontier areas, especially the Chin, Karen, Kayah and Shan where most ethnic groups with ceasefire pacts with Rangoon are strong.

"Although the ethnic organisations have ceasefire agreements with the junta, the top generals remain highly suspicious of the ethnic groups and want to be in a better position to control them if they need to," said Win Min. [selection edited for punctuation only - ed.]

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