Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Burma's new parliament and head of military sworn in

Burma's leader senior general Than Shwe (pictured 27 March 2010) Analysts say the country's most powerful general, Than Shwe, is unlikely to relinquish all power
Burma's military government has been officially dissolved, state television said, after the new president of a civilian-led parliament was sworn in.
There are also unconfirmed reports that senior General Than Shwe, who has ruled Burma for the last two decades, has given up his last official role.
Reports say General Min Aung Hlaing is the new head of Burma's army.
It follows November's elections which were widely criticised by the West and Burmese pro-democracy campaigners.
Burmese state TV said Gen Than Shwe had "officially dissolved" the military regime's State Peace and Development Council.
"Altogether 58 new cabinet members including the president, two vice-presidents, officials and ministers were sworn in this morning at the Union Parliament" in Naypyidaw, an official was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.
Unconfirmed reports say Gen Min Aung Hlaing attended the inauguration of Thein Sein as president in the capacity of the new head of the Armed Forces.
The BBC's South East Asia correspondent Rachel Harvey says the key question is what happens to the all-powerful outgoing head of state, Gen Than Shwe.
If it is confirmed that he has stepped down as commander-in-chief, it suggests he will take up a role behind the scenes. No-one seriously believes he would voluntarily bow out altogether, our correspondent says.
A new guise? The swearing-in of a new parliament completes a transition of power from a military regime to a hybrid administration.
Following Burma's first elections in 20 years, it is the final stage in a long road to what the country's military leaders have called a "disciplined democracy".
But critics dismiss the new system as a continuation of the old in a new guise.
The new administration is made up of former generals, some serving military officers and a handful of technocrats.
President Thein Sein served as a prime minister in the old military government but resigned from the army to stand in the election for the military-backed USDP party.
The USDP won 80% of the vote. Under the new constitution, a quarter of the seats were also reserved for the military.
Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, which won the last elections in 1990 but was never allowed to take power, is not represented in parliament.
The party disbanded ahead of the election because of laws that would have forced it to expel its leaders.
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