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Burma Swears In Civilian President, Ending Overt Military Rule

  • VOA News

Burmese officials say Prime Minister Thein Sein had been sworn in as the country's president, marking the formal transfer of power to a nominally civilian-led government after decades of military rule.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told news agencies that Thein Sein was sworn in Wednesday in the presence of members of a new parliament elected in November. They said Vice Presidents U Tin Aung Oo and Sai Mauk Kham where sworn in at the same ceremony.

The French news agency quoted a Burmese official saying Senior General Than Shwe, who has governed the country since 1992, did not attend the ceremony. It said General Min Aung Hlaing attended the swearing-in as commander in chief of the army, indicating that Than Shwe has stepped down from the top military post.

The agency also quoted state media saying the long-ruling military junta has been "officially dissolved."

Thein Sein, like most of his 30-member cabinet, stepped down from the military in order to run as a civilian in controversial elections last year.

The pro-military Union Solidarity and Development Party, headed by Thein Sein, won about 80 percent of the seats in the election, the country's first in 20 years.

The government is hailing the changes as a major reform. But critics say the election rules made it impossible for opposition parties to compete effectively, and the most prominent opposition party, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, did not run at all.

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