(Mizzima) – Twenty-two of the junta’s cabinet ministers including Prime Minister Thein Sein resigned from their military posts this week, in what is seen by observers as paving the way for them to join the new “civilian” government.
Sources close to the authorities told Mizzima that the list included Agriculture and Irrigation Minister Major General Htay Oo (General Secretary of Union Solidarity and Development Association – USDA); Rail Transport Minister Major General Aung Min; Commerce Minister Brigadier General Tin Naing Thein; No. 1 Electrical Power Minister Colonel Zaw Min; No.2, Major General Khin Maung Myint; and Deputy Home Minister Brigadier General Phone Swe.
Though the junta failed to officially announce the resignations, today’s issues of state-run papers first referred to the prime minister as U Thein Sein, omitting his former military rank of general. “U” is the equivalent of Mr. in Burmese.
Opposition activists and political observers see the resignations as a sign the ministers are set to run in upcoming elections to seats in the new “civilian government”. They predicted that the ministers would soon start campaigning openly.
A military source said that another batch of military officers of remaining ministers and deputy ministers would soon resign from their military posts.
Opposition groups and critics said the junta was using the polls to ensure a favourable outcome in the polls and maintain a tight grip on power. As per the 2008 constitution, 25 per cent of seats are reserved for military personnel in all legislatures, namely the People’s Parliament (lower house), the National Parliament (upper house), and the States and Regions Parliament (state assembly).
The act of resigning from military posts means they will not be included in the 25 per cent quota.
The as yet undated polls will be the first since those of 1990, which were won in a massive landslide by the National League for Democracy led by Aung San Suu Kyi.