Burmese President Thein Sein has announced a much anticipated shake-up of his cabinet, replacing at least nine ministerial posts in a move billed as the government’s latest effort to promote reform. Several of Thein Sein’s key allies were moved to important posts, while at least two ministers left over from the former military junta were sidelined to minor appointments.
The announcement comes in the wake of eight months of historic government reforms, including the release of hundreds of political prisoners and the removal of travel bans for more than 2,000 people. Last week, the government abolished a long-standing censorship rule that required all journalists to submit their work for review before publication.
While these moves indicate a transition from decades of harsh rule by a repressive military dictatorship, rights groups warn that weak rule of law, corruption and ongoing conflict with ethnic groups could undermine positive steps forward. There is also widespread international outrage at the regime's appalling treatment of the Rohingya, a persecuted Muslim community that has been stripped of citizenship and basic human rights.
Additional changes to the cabinet are expected to be announced in the coming days.
Read more: Will this move enable further reform, increase Thein Sein’s grip on power or both? The New York Times has the best analysis to date on what this shake-up could mean.
Sources: AFP, Australia Network News, AP, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, New York Times