State Law and Order Restoration Council


State Law and Order Restoration Council
   (SLORC)
   The martial law regime that seized power on September 18, 1988. Reorganized as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) in November 1997, it is a junta consisting of the highest-ranking military officers. According to SLORC Announcement No. 1/90, issued in July 1990, it was not bound by any constitution and exercised sole legislative, executive, and judicial authority (as does its successor the SPDC). The name in Burmese is Naing-ngandaw Nyein Wut Pyi Pya Yae (shortened to Na-Wa-Ta), which literally means "Committee for the Construction of Tranquility and Obedience in the Country."
   The SLORC was proclaimed over the state radio on the afternoon of September 18. It ordered the armed forces to suppress popular opposition in Rangoon (Yangon) and other localities, resulting in as many as 1,000 civilian deaths in the capital alone. Its seizure of power is sometimes erroneously referred to as a "coup d'état" similar to the one on March 2, 1962, which brought General Ne Win to power. But it was neither an action by the military against a government of which it disapproved (SLORC commanders were loyal to retired leader Ne Win) nor a putsch carried out by a single military faction against rivals (because the top levels of the Tatmadaw remained united behind the new junta). Its legal, or extralegal, status appears to have been inspired by the concept of "an aid to civil power," found in the British colonial-era code of laws, in which the military may be empowered to intervene "in a state of extreme emergency" to protect lives and property. According to some sources, Dr. Maung Maung, serving as president at the time, advised SLORC chairman General Saw Maung about the use of this legal justification on the eve of the takeover.
   The mission of the SLORC was defined in four objectives: restoration of law and order; facilitation of transportation and communications through adequate security; provision of the people with food and other basic necessities; and successful staging of democratic, multiparty elections after the three prior objectives have been met. Although SLORC leaders repeatedly emphasized the transitional nature of military rule and the need to establish a democratically elected civilian government, reformulation of the junta's objectives in the more vague Three Main National Causes ("Non-Disintegration of the Union," "Non-Disintegration of National Solidarity," and "Consolidation of Sovereignty") in the early 1990s indicated that the transition process would be a lengthy one. Regime spokesmen defined the SLORC's role as historically analogous to that of the 1962 Revolutionary Council, which over a dozen years prepared the way for establishment of a new constitutional order, the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma.
   On the state/division, township, and ward/village tract levels, Law and Order Restoration Councils composed of lower-ranking military officers were established to control the civil administration, in a pattern similar to the post-1962 Security and Administration Committees. At the time of its formation, the SLORC junta consisted of 19 members: Chairman General Saw Maung (later Senior General), who served concurrently as commander in chief of the Tatmadaw, prime minister, defense minister, and foreign minister; vice chairman lieutenant general Than Shwe, concurrently commander of the army; Secretary-1 Brigadier (later Lieutenant General) Khin Nyunt, who was also head of Military Intelligence; Secretary-2 Colonel Tin Oo; the commanders of the navy and air force; the adjutant-general; the quartermaster general; the commanders of the Bureaus of Special Operations 1 and 2; and the heads of the country's nine regional military commands (later expanded to 12). The most important change in SLORC personnel was the retirement of Saw Maung as SLORC chairman on April 23, 1992 and his replacement by Than Shwe.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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