Aung Gyi | Myanmar reformer, 93

Posted: October 27, 2012

Aung Gyi, 93, a senior army officer who served briefly in Myanmar's postcoup military junta, but later became a founder of the country's pro-democracy movement, died Thursday of cardiac arrest.

Brig. Gen. Aung Gyi was second in command in the army, then in the junta set up after Gen. Ne Win seized power in a 1962 coup. But the next year, Mr. Gyi's public comments about the coup and economic policies led to his ouster.

He was imprisoned in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s for his continuing criticism, but his open letters to Ne Win about economic reform were a catalyst for the failed 1988 mass pro-democracy uprising that toppled his former superior.

At the height of the 1988 unrest, he became chairman of the National League for Democracy party, which he cofounded with Aung San Suu Kyi. He resigned shortly afterward, alleging communist influence in the party. Despite a conciliatory nature, he found himself at odds with many in pro-democracy movement because of his lasting personal loyalty to Ne Win and the army as an institution. - AP

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