Burma's hardline vice-president Tin Aung Myint Oo quits as reforms gather pace


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The Independent Online

A former leading general close to Burma's former dictator Than Shwe has reportedly given up his position in the Burmese government amid talk of a battle between reformers and hardliners.

Burmese media said that Tin Aung Myint Oo one of the country's two vice-presidents, submitted his resignation on 3 May. The reports said the 61-year-old had cited health concerns for his decision, after returning from Singapore for medical treatment.

But whatever health concerns he may have, the announcement, carried by the Burmese language service of Voice of America, has followed weeks of speculation about plans by President Thein Sein to carry out a reshuffle of senior officials. Last month, the Financial Times reported that Tin Aung Myint Oo was among the most high-ranking officials expected to lose his job.

The development will be seen by many as another reformist move by Thein Sein as he seeks to court the West and develop business ties and diplomatic ties after decades of estrangement.

Tin Aung Myint Oo, a former four-star general, was considered a leader among hardliners in the year-old military-backed government that replaced the various juntas which ruled the country since 1962. Although both he and Thein Sein were close to Than Shwe, Tin Aung Myint Oo and Thein Sein did not reportedly agree on a number of issues.

Tin Aung Myint Oo graduated from the Defence Services Academy in 1970, becoming north-eastern military commander near the Chinese border late 1990s. He was subsequently promoted to Secretary-1 of the former junta in 1997, a year when the army rounded up hundreds of pro-democracy activists in Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy to prevent them from attending a party congress.

Following by-elections last month, Ms Suu Kyi and 42 other members of her party last week took their seats in parliament despite disagreements over the the oath they were required to swear.