A major reshuffle by Burma's ruling junta marks the biggest shift within the military in decades, with changes to more than 70 senior army officers' positions, an officer said Saturday.
A major reshuffle by Burma's ruling junta marks the biggest shift within the military in decades, with changes to more than 70 senior army officers' positions, an officer said.
News emerged from the country Friday that some senior leaders, including army number three Thura Shwe Mann, had retired from their military posts to stand in the November 7 poll -- the first held in the country in two decades.
"More than 70 senior military officers' posts were changed. We can say that it's the biggest change within the military in decades," an army officer, who declined to be named, told AFP.
"Our leaders have been planning for a long time to keep the military active with the new generation," he added.
Initial news reports on Friday said the junta chief Than Shwe -- who has ruled the country with an iron-fist since 1992 -- and his number two Maung Aye had stepped down from the army, but this was denied by a government official.
An unnamed government officer close to the regime said on Saturday that the 77-year-old and his deputy were "likely to retire soon".
"The order hasn't come out yet in paper though they have planned it," he said. "It's likely to be after the election."
The reshuffle was not officially announced by the Burma media and state television was silent on the subject.
It comes as the country gears up for its first elections since democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) was denied office by the junta after winning a landslide victory in 1990.
Critics and the West have said the upcoming vote, which will guarantee a quarter of the legislature for the army, is a sham aimed at putting a civilian mask on the junta.
Prime Minister Thein Sein and other ministers stepped down from the military in April to contest the vote as the Union Solidarity and Development Party, which is unconstrained by the financial and campaigning barriers faced by other parties.
Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi has been in detention for much of the last twenty years and is barred from standing in the election because she is a serving prisoner.
Her NLD party -- which would have been the greatest threat to the junta -- is boycotting the upcoming poll, saying the rules are unfair. As a result, it was forcibly disbanded by the ruling generals.
Source: Bangkok Post