07/05/2012, 00.00
MYANMAR

Govt reshuffle in Myanmar empowers reformist wing

Changes are expected at the top as three senior ministers close to hardliners are set to quit. Vice President Tin Aung Myint Oo has already resigned. He was viewed as a strong ally of Gen Than Shwe. Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi continue to work together.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Several hardliners from the old military regime could leave Burma's top leadership in an imminent reshuffle. This includes one of the two vice presidents, Tin Aung Myint Oo, who has resigned for health reasons. He had already indicated his intention to quit and had disappeared from the public eye in May. A well known hardliner closely linked to former junta chief General Than Shwe, he had opposed the pro-democracy reform process undertaken by current President Thein Sein, which is backed by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Both Sein and Suu Kyi are viewed by many as the main promoters of Burma's changes.

Three senior ministers are expected to be replaced soon by more moderate figures in the new line-up, government official sources said. "Those who are about to be reshuffled are known as hardliners," AFP reported said.

The speaker for both houses of parliament announced the resignation of vice president Tin Aung Myint Oo. His successor will be chosen by the military appointees in parliament, 25 per cent of the total according to the constitution, before 10 July, to be later "approved" by both houses.  

Changes in government leadership come at a crucial time for Myanmar. Led by reformist President Thein Sein, many new laws in the field of economics, trade union and press freedom have been introduced in the past year. Political prisoners have also been released. In many of these changes, Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD) played a role.

The Nobel Prize laureate and 40 members of her party have been elected to parliament in free and fair by-elections held on 1 April

Aung San Suu Kyi did not attend the recent opening of parliament. She is currently recuperating after an exhausting two-week European tour. Before taking her seat in Naypyidaw, she plans to visit her riding to meet her supporters.

She will be in the capital next Monday to boost her party's presence and push for greater transparency in parliament.

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