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Burma's Prime Minister Reportedly Dismissed - 2004-10-19


Thailand has announced that Burma's Prime Minister Khin Nyunt has been placed under house arrest.

Thai government spokesman, Jakrapob Penkair, tells VOA his government began receiving reports early Tuesday that Burmese Prime Minister Khin Nyunt had been fired after being accused of corruption.

He said, "We learned by far that there was a change in the premiership of Burma and General Khin Nyunt has been put under house arrest and he received allegations concerning corruption."

However, the spokesman adds that the situation is still not clear. Diplomats in Rangoon contacted by telephone say the rumor of the prime minister's dismissal spread quickly through the capital. But they say the city was peaceful as people waited for official confirmation.

General Khin Nyunt was the third ranking leader in Burma's military junta until he was appointed prime minister last year. He was tasked with implementing a road map to bring democracy to Burma - which has been ruled by the military for more than 40 years.

The road map was aimed at de-fusing criticism over Burma's human rights record, which included crippling economic sanctions by Western governments. However, tensions were reported between Khin Nyunt, who headed military intelligence, and the junta's top leaders, Senior General Than Shwe and Army Commander Maung Aye.

The two hardliners reportedly were unhappy over the prime minister's efforts to mediate with pro-democracy activists and ethnic minorities.

Under General Khin Nyunt's leadership, the Burmese government earlier this year re-convened a national convention to draft a constitution leading to elections.

But the pro-democracy National League for Democracy boycotted the convention because of the continued detention of its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. Several other groups also boycotted saying the process was controlled by the military. The convention has been suspended.

Thailand has been trying to assist the reconciliation process in Burma. Government Spokesman Jakrapob says he hopes these efforts can continue.

He said, "We sure hope that the situation will resume its normalcy very soon and we are confident that any changes made to the Burmese authority will not jeopardize the good relations that we have between our two countries."

Thai leaders, like many Asian officials, believe that working with Burmese authorities will be more effective than sanctions in bringing reform. The Thai government is also keen to ease cross-border tensions caused by drug smuggling and illegal immigration.

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