Yangon (Myanmar), Sept.26 : The ruling military junta in Myanmar still remains in firm control of the country and its affairs even a year after it began a deadly crackdown on thousands of Buddhist monks protesting sharp rises in the price of food and fuel.
Now the country's ruling generals are steeling themselves for a reprise.
According to the New York Times, as the anniversary approaches, the police have erected checkpoints on the outskirts of Yangon, formerly Rangoon, and conducted nightly house-to-house searches, usually just after midnight, hunting for dissidents or critics of their rule - anyone who might want to commemorate the protests.
The generals' domination in Myanmar, formerly Burma, has been tested repeatedly over the past two decades. Yet today, with their principal rivals sidelined, exiled or imprisoned, the generals appear to be at the apex of their power.
"This isn't a regime on the run or about to fall," said Charles Petrie, who until last year coordinated the United Nations' operations here.
Petrie said that in military and security terms, "they definitely know what's going on." Burmese dissident groups nurture a long-held hope that some sort of regime change will bring greater prosperity to an impoverished population living amid remarkably fertile lands, abundant tropical hardwoods, ample natural gas reserves and many other riches.
But the only foreseeable change is a lot less grandiose: Than Shwe, the senior general who has been in charge since 1992, is now in his mid-70s. Questions about who and what will follow lead to endless and intense speculation here.
The purges have eliminated many possible successors and created an intellectual vacuum at the highest levels of government. This has also led to a large generational gap between General Than Shwe and his likely successors.
For each of the past eight years, the government has claimed that the economy has grown by more than 12 percent, faster than China or any other country in the region. Yet its population is so poor that the World Food Program estimates that five million people lack sufficient food.
In recent months, cooperation between the generals and the outside world has improved somewhat, but there is no doubt about the generals ever losing power.