The United States marked the death of Burmese dictator Ne Win Thursday by criticizing his "poor" leadership, and bemoaning the failure of his successors to improve the lives of their people.
U Ne Win, whose rule left his country bankrupt and an international pariah, died at the age of 91 in Rangoon at his lakeside house.
A State Department official said, "Ne Win's poor record of leadership during his 1962-1988 rule of Burma speaks for itself. Unfortunately his successors have thus far failed to move the country forwards. We continue to hope for a better future for the Burmese people."
David Steinberg, Director of Asian studies at Georgetown University and veteran Burma analyst said, “U Ne Win is responsible for much of the disaster economically and politically that has affected the country.”
Josef Silverstein, an American political scientist who has studied Burma for five decades said U Ne Win led his country from the verge of prosperity to ruin.
“When he took power in 1962, Burma was well on the way to recovering from the ravages of the World War II, exporting 2 million tons of rice per year. But by 1987, Burma was reduced to the status of a least developed nation,” Professor Silverstein said.
Observers of Burma say U Ne Win's death marks the passing of an era but will have few ramifications as he was effectively finished as a political force.