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Burmese Military Government Reshuffle - 2003-08-26


Burma's military government has undergone a major reshuffling--with the country's third most-powerful figure, Khin Nyunt, taking over the post of prime minister.

Senior leader Than Shwe, who used to hold that post, has now given it up. But the country's official media say Than Shwe is keeping his posts as chairman of the ruling military body, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and defense minister.

Analysts interviewed by the VOA Burmese service differ in their interpretation of the reshuffle. One contends the switch is a demotion for Khin Nyunt--who is one of the more moderate generals in the ruling military council. His replacement as Number Three, Soe Win, is seen as more of a hardliner and closer to Than Shwe.

Another analyst believes Khin Nyunt's appointment to prime minister is an attempt by the military to present a more moderate face to the outside world in foreign affairs.

Burma is under harsh economic sanctions imposed by the West in an effort to get the military government to release pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. She has been held in a secret location for three months. The sanctions also are aimed at opening up Burma to democratic reform.

Five other senior ministers were removed from their posts, including David Abel and Min Thein--two officials in Than Shwe's office. David Abel was in charge of promoting foreign investment.

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

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