Bangkok - Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, known for his close ties with Myanmar's top military leaders, has scotched rumours of a coup in Yangon. According to the rumours, which had been circulating in the military-run country this week and caused the kyat currency to fall, junta strongman Senior General Than Shwe had been ousted as the country’s powerful army commander.
But at a regular press conference on Aug 25, AFP quoted Mr Thaksin as saying: "The coup d'etat in Myanmar is not true. It is a rumour that has been released. We have checked the information with all of our sources."
Earlier, reports suggested that General Maung Aye, the junta's No.2, and a group of military leaders forced Gen Than Shwe into retirement, accusing him of "nepotism and corruption".
A Thai official was quoted as saying on Aug 24: "We've heard Maung Aye has seized power from Than Shwe, citing allegations of corruption and his involvement in illegal trading weapons."
Gen Than Shwe, 73, has not been seen on state television since Aug 20. Mr Soe Myint, editor of New Delhi-based pro-democracy website, mizzima.com, said that there had been tension among the generals.
"From what I have heard, a five-member group of generals led by Gen Maung Aye staged the coup during a weekly Cabinet meeting on Monday. The group accused Than Shwe of nepotism," he said on Aug 24.
However, AFP on Aug 25 quoted diplomats in Yangon as saying that the capital was quiet and that they were extremely sceptical a coup had taken place.
"Everybody is aware of the rumours, yet it remains that there's no evidence whatsoever that anything has happened," one Western diplomat told the news agency.
Observers in the country said that although the rumours were dying down, the speed with which they spread was a sign of desperation among its citizens for political change after four decades of military rule.
Last October, Prime Minister Khin Nyunt, seen by some as a more liberal figure in the hawkish regime, was ousted in a sweeping purge. He was sentenced to a 44-year suspended sentence after being convicted on eight charges, including bribery and corruption.
* Thai PM says Myanmar coup rumours untrue (The Nation, Aug 25)
* Reports: Myanmar strongman Than Shwe ousted (The Straits Times, Aug 25)