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Tuesday, 12 March, 2002, 11:04 GMT
Burma reveals 'coup plot'
Former Burmese dictator Ne Win
Ne Win ruled Burma for quarter of a century
Burma's ruling military has been giving details of what it says was a coup attempt by four relatives of the former military dictator, Ne Win.

A military official, Kyaw Win, said the four were planning to abduct Burma's top three leaders and take them to Ne Win's house, where they would be pressured to agree to form a new government.

Aung San Suu Kyi
The incident could be part of a power struggle over Aung San Suu Kyi
Those who refused were to be detained at the house, he said.

Kyaw Win said the family had tried to enlist elements in the military, and he confirmed the sacking of four top military figures.

He attributed the plot to resentment at economic and political changes, but he said the developments would not derail talks with the Burmese pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Some observers have speculated that the purge could be part of a power struggle within the military over how to handle Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been in closed-door reconciliation talks with Burma's military leaders since October 2000.

'Puppet government'

Aung San Suu Kyi - who is under house arrest in Rangoon - led her National League for Democracy to sweeping election victory in 1990. However, the military refused to hand over power.

The government said the alleged coup plot was masterminded by Ne Win's son-in-law Aye Zaw Win and three of Aye Zaw Win's sons. They were arrested last Thursday at a Chinese restaurant where they were said to have been meeting an unnamed military commander.

"They did not intend to rule the country themselves but to form a puppet government under the influence of Ne Win," Kyaw Win told reporters.

The government confirmed that four senior military officials had been sacked and were being questioned about the coup plot.

They are air force chief Major General Myint Swe, police chief Major General Soe Win, and regional commanders Brigadier General Chit Than and Major General Aye Kywe.

Some Western diplomats in Rangoon have said the coup claims are far fetched and that the real reason for the military purge was an internal power struggle.

Ne Win - now in his 90s - seized control of Burma in 1962 and continued to wield influence after he stepped down in 1988.

See also:

10 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
Top Burma officials sacked
08 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
Burma turns on the charm
25 Feb 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Burma
05 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
China and Burma denounce US report
04 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
Burma sanctions: The case for
04 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
Burma sanctions: The case against
25 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Burma
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