Burmese junta reveals details of 'failed coup'

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The Independent Online

The military government of Burma said yesterday that alleged coup plotters arrested last week had planned to seize power by abducting the junta's top three leaders.

The government also suggested that black magic was employed in the abortive coup by four relatives of the former dictator Ne Win. The deputy head of military intelligence, Major General Kyaw Win, said the 90-year-old hoped to gain power by coercing the senior junta figures into swearing allegiance to him.

He told a news conference that details of the coup plot were revealed by the alleged mastermind, Aye Zaw Win, 54, during interrogation. He is the son-in-law of Ne Win, the former general who ruled for 26 years until 1988 and led the country to economic ruin. Aye Zaw Win and his three sons, Aye Ne Win, 25, Kyaw Ne Win 23, and Zwe Ne Win, 21, were arrested last Thursday night. Their plot amounted to a criminal offence and legal action would be taken against them, Maj-Gen Kyaw Win said.

"They didn't seem to have the intention to be the government but wanted to form a new government with military leaders who would owe allegiance to Ne Win," he said. He refused to say whether Ne Win was involved in the alleged plot.

He said the family wanted a new government apparently because it was upset at losing some economic and social privileges it previously enjoyed. More than 20 other people had been detained for questioning.

Maj-Gen Kyaw Win said the coup plotters had planned to win over military commanders and use their units to overpower security men at the residences of the government's top three officials – the junta leader, General Than Shwe, the army chief, General Maung Aye, and Secretary One, Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt. The three leaders were then to be taken to Ne Win's house on 27 March, he said.

In a related development, the government fired the air force chief, the national police chief and a top regional military commander.