Burma reshuffle raises hope for jailed leader

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The Independent Online
Burma's military leaders have made a surprise move by creating a new ruling body. The State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc), which has ruled with an iron hand since 1988, said at the weekend it had disbanded and would be replaced by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).

State media said the 19-member SPDC was made up of four former Slorc leaders, including its chairman Than Shwe and Secretary One and intelligence chief Khin Nyunt. "This is clearly a major revamping of the government, a huge cabinet reshuffle, but it is very difficult and premature to speculate if it would lead to any major policy changes," a foreign diplomat said.

The government said earlier this month that it was trying to create conditions for democracy. In October, the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was allowed to make her first political trip outside the capital since being released from house arrest two years ago. But the junta has foiled a number of subsequent attempts. The last incident occurred on Thursday when she was prevented from leaving her home by barbed- wire barricades.