Yangon (AsiaNews) –General Soe Win, Burmese prime minister, died yesterday in the military hospital of Mingalardon, Yangon. The news was reported by the online agency of exiled Burmese dissidents; News, citing local sources. Soe Win had been sick for some time and his powers had been given over to lieutenant general Thein Sein, appointed substitute premier.
The ex prime minister had returned to Myanmar from Singapore on October 1st where he had secretly undergone medical treatment. His illness had never been officially revealed but he is believed to have suffered from leukaemia.
Born in 1948, Soe Win, was a stout opposer of political reform and was considered a close follower of the military junta chief Than Shwe, who nominated in 2004. He had taken over from Kyin Nyut, considered more democratic and closet to the opposition.
Before his appointment as prime minister, Soe Win was principally known for his restrictive measures against students during the 1988 protests. A devout Buddhist, Soe Win persecuted the Chin Christians when he was president of the North Western region of the state. He was also known by the nickname “the butcher of Depayin”, for having orchestrated the fierce attack against the National League for Democracy leader (Nld), Aung San Suu Kyi, and her supporters in Depayin in 2003.
According to anonymous sources, Soe Win will be replaced by Thein Sein, the fifth highest ranking general in the country; while Tin Aung Myint Oo will be promoted to fill Thein Sein’s position as the junta’s “first secretary”.