Burmese junta hands over to new 'democracy'

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The Independent Online

Burma's junta was officially disbanded yesterday after handing over power to a so-called civilian government, the latest phase of a transition to democracy that has been widely criticised as a sham.

The closed-door inauguration of the new government was announced only after it took place, in keeping with the secretive style of Burma's military regimes of the past 50 years. Despite the handover, key figures in the former junta including leader Senior General Than Shwe are expected to retain a substantial hold over power.

State television and radio reported that the new government headed by President Thein Sein was sworn in by parliament in the remote capital of Naypyidaw. Burma, which has been ruled by the military since 1962, held its first elections in 20 years in November, though there has been little indication since of real democratic changes.