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Reuters-Myanmar general shrugs at `

Subject: Reuters-Myanmar general shrugs at ``Prince of Darkness'' tag 

Myanmar general shrugs at ``Prince of Darkness'' tag
06:54 a.m. May 07, 1999 Eastern
BANGKOK, May 7 (Reuters) - Myanmar's powerful military intelligence chief
has shrugged off the nickname ``Prince of Darkness,'' saying he is just a
loyal servant of the state.

Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, considered the most powerful figure in
Myanmar's military government, was asked by an interviewer to comment on the
media tag.

``I read an article or two that carried the term you mentioned,'' he said.
``I leave it to you to answer the question. Personally I would like to think
of myself as a servant of the people who is trying to do the best for the

Khin Nyunt's remarks were contained in the text of an interview sent by the
Yangon government to news organisations on Friday. He rarely talks to

The head of the Directorate of Defence Services Intelligence is identified
by Myanmar dissidents as the power behind tough government suppression of
political opposition.

Khin Nyunt rejected allegations that the government had forced mass
resignations from the opposition National League for Democracy over the past
year and blamed its leader, Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, for being

``They keep saying they want a dialogue with the government, they are
actually not sincere...and are trying to put obstacles in the path to
discussions,'' he said.

Khin Nyunt also brushed aside criticism of closure of the country's
universities for much of the past decade because of student unrest.

``The closing of the universities is only temporary and we are trying to
reopen them in the near future,'' he said.

Khin Nyunt said the ruling State Peace and Development Council remained
united and rejected suggestions of splits.

``This is a myth and a misinformation first spread by expatriate dissident
groups and then picked up by the media with the malicious aim of causing
splits or at least giving the impression of splits within the SPDC,'' he

He insisted that Ne Win, the octogenarian architect of authoritarianism who
ruled from 1962 until 1988, was retired and dismissed suggestions he still
influenced decision-making.

``He has retired completely from politics and is now engaged in religious
devotion only. Since he is no longer engaged in political matters, the
question of his influence in this sphere no longer arises,'' he said.

Khin Nyunt also rejected as ``misinformation from insurgent sources''
reports of forced military conscription and defended relocation of villagers
to make way for construction projects.

Relocations were unavoidable with infrastructure projects like dams but
villagers were consulted in advance, informed of the benefits, and steps
were taken to minimise disruption.

``Therefore there are no genuine complaints from villagers who relise it is
they themselves and their communities who will benefit in the long run,'' he