10/20/2004, 00.00
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Myanmar names Soe Win as PM

Yangoon (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Myanmar's new prime minister is Lt. Gen Soe Win, a former defence chief who entered the regime's top ranks only last year.

His appointment, replacing the ousted Khin Nyunt, was announced in Yangon Tuesday night by the State Peace and Development Council, the ruling junta chaired by Myanmar's most powerful figure, Senior General Than Shwe.

Separately, the SPDC said Khin Nyunt had been "permitted to retire for health reasons". Yesterday Khin Nyunt has been ousted and put under house arrest after a lengthy power struggle that has tightened the grip of hardliners in the military government.

Khin Nyunt's removal is seen as a consolidation of Than Shwe's power in this nation of 42 million people.

In August last year, Soe Win was promoted to First Secretary of the SPDC.

Soe Win's earlier roles had been North-West Commander and Chairman of Sagaing Division Peace and Development Council.

Soe Win, thought to be about 56, is believed to espouse a hard line in dealing with the pro-democracy movement led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy, won elections in 1990 but was not allowed to take power.

A month ago, Soe Win, as SPDC First Secretary, announced a cabinet reshuffle in which three new ministers were appointed and the foreign, agricultural and transport ministers were removed.

Myanmar has been ruled by a succession of military juntas for more than four decades. The current regime took power in 1988 after crushing a pro-democracy uprising.

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