Agence France Presse

Yangon, January 29:

Myanmar’s top three generals were pictured smiling together in state media today, in what observers said was a calculated attempt to quash rumours of a coup or struggle at the pinnacle of power. Suspicion had swelled that political tension was once again boiling over in the state just three months after the ouster of prime minister Khin Nyunt. Last week lieutenant colonel Bo Win Tun, the personal assistant to Myanmar number two deputy senior general Maung Aye, died under mysterious circumstances and was given a military funeral.

Rumours swirled that he may have been assassinated, killed himself or died protecting Maung Aye, sparking talk of a power struggle resurfacing in Yangon, the Myanmar capital.

Western diplomats had noted the recent disappearance from public view of new prime minister general Soe Win, which led to reports he may have been placed under house arrest or fled the city. Saturday’s state-run New Light of Myanmar and other newspapers published several photographs from the previous day depicting junta leader senior general Than Shwe with Maung Aye and Soe Win. All three were shown, together in some photographs, wearing military uniforms and attending an annual student ceremony in Yangon.

“This is a calculated effort to show things are in order and it’s an indication that these rumours are pretty much quashed,” one observer in Yangon said. Myanmar foreign minister Nyan Win, visiting the Thai island Phuket for a tsunami meeting, also reportedly dismissed speculation about the top brass.

“Prime minister Soe Win is still in office and fine. He is not under house arrest like Khin Nyunt,” the Nation newspaper quoted him as saying.