29 August 2010

Biggest change in decades

YANGON - A major reshuffle by Myanmar'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 on Saturday.

News emerged from the country on 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 Straits Times

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