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Thailand Welcomes Burmese Cabinet Shuffle - 2003-08-26


The leader of Thailand has welcomed Monday's government re-shuffle in neighboring Burma, calling it a move towards more democracy.

Speaking to reporters in Bangkok (Tuesday), Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra called the move a sign that Burma wants to gain more acceptance from the international community. He said the reshuffle will help move the democratic process forward in Burma.

Bangkok has kept good relations with Rangoon, despite the arrest May 30th of Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. That arrest has prompted international sanctions against Burma's military government.

In Monday's cabinet change, Burma's third-most powerful figure, Khin Nyunt, became prime minister in place of senior leader Than Shwe, the head of the ruling military council.

Burmese state media media said Than Shwe is keeping his posts as chairman of the military body, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and defense minister.

Some analysts call the reshuffle a demotion for Khin Nyunt, one of the more moderate members of Burma's ruling council, because the prime minister has little real power. Others say the move is an attempt by the military government to present a more moderate face to the outside world.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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