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Burma's Military Confirms Move to New Administrative Capital


Burma's military government has confirmed it is moving several ministries from Rangoon to a new administrative capital hundreds of kilometers to the north. Analysts say the relocation is expected to boost the military's control over the country.

Information minister Brigadier General Kyaw Hsan confirmed the government has started to relocate the ministries to Pyinmana, more than 300-kilometers north of Rangoon.

General Kyaw Hsan says the move reflected the development of the country, especially the frontier and border regions that required a "command and control center."

The move, which had been initially without announcement, began Sunday.

The move includes the foreign affairs, commerce, and home ministries. Officials said that eventually all ministries are to be relocated.


Although a move has long been talked of, the ruling generals apparently gave little warning to government workers, many of whom must leave their families behind in Rangoon.

Panitan Wattanatagorn, a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University, says Burma's military appears to be stepping up its hold over the country.

He says the decision to move was not surprising, "For years now it seems to be the military government is looking for a better place to be located in the sense of command-control communications and the new strategic locations that allowing the military to move and to control the country much more effectively."

Mr. Panitan says the military government had been improving its communication systems to be able to avoid interception, especially by Western countries.

He also says Burma's weak economy could get a boost from the project due to the heavy investment in construction in Pyinmana. Financial analysts say that because of economic mismanagement and international sanctions, Burma is one of the poorest
countries in Asia.

Two key trading partners, China and Thailand, have helped Burma upgrade its telecommunications links in recent years. China has been a source of military equipment and fiber-optic cable.

Thailand's Shin Corporation - controlled by the family of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra - also has invested in Burma's communications and satellite services.

Burma's military has ruled for much of the past 40 years and has sought to hold onto power despite pressure from the international community to undertake political reform.

The government ignored a sweeping election victory by the opposition National League for Democracy in May 1990, and instead has tightened its control of the country.

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