Ne Win

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Ne Win

U . 1911--2002, Burmese statesman and general; prime minister (1958--60), head of the military government (1962--74), and president (1974--81)

Ne Win

 

(U Ne Win, Muang Shu Maung). Born May 24, 1911, in Paungde, Prome District. Burmese statesman and political figure.

The son of a provincial official, Ne Win attended the University of Rangoon and from 1932 worked in the postal and telegraphic service. He became a member of the patriotic organization Dobama Asi-ayon during World War II (1939–45) and along with Aung San was among the “Thirty Comrades” who became the nucleus of the Burma National Army. During the Japanese occupation of Burma (1942–45), Ne Win held several commands in the Burma Independence Army and was chief of staff of the Burma Defense Army.

Joining the Supreme Council of the Antifascist People’s Freedom League in 1944, Ne Win commanded Burmese troops in the delta region of the Irrawaddy River in 1945. In 1947 he was elected to the Constituent Assembly that proclaimed the independence of Burma on Jan. 4, 1948. Appointed commander of the Northern Military District in 1948, Ne Win served as deputy chief of the General Staff from August 1948, chief of the General Staff and commander in chief of the armed forces from 1950 to 1972, deputy prime minister from 1949 to 1950, and prime minister from 1958 to 1960.

On Mar. 2, 1962, the Burmese Army, commanded by Ne Win, assumed power in the country and set up the Revolutionary Council, which functioned under Ne Win’s leadership until March 1974. From 1962 to 1974, Ne Win was also chairman of the Revolutionary Government (from 1971, the Council of Ministers). He served as minister of defense from 1958 to 1972 and in 1962 became chairman of both the Central Organizational and Disciplinary committees of the Burma Socialist Program Party (BSPP), founded in 1962. In 1971 the first BSPP congress elected Ne Win chairman of the Executive Committee of the BSPP Central Committee. Under Ne Win’s leadership, the Revolutionary Council and the government carried out several important antifeudal and anti-imperialist social and economic reforms. When the new constitution was adopted in 1974, Ne Win became chairman of the Council of State of the People’s Assembly and president of the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma. He visited the USSR in 1961 and 1965.