Myanmar sacks eight ministers

Myanmar's government has dismissed eight deputy ministers in a cabinet reshuffle.

    Myanmar moved the nation's capital in November

    The military government announced the dismissal of the ministers and a supreme court judge without giving any reasons.

    The official announcement of Friday's dismissals, signed by Lieutenant-General Thein Sein - the fifth-ranking member of the government - said the eight deputy ministers were "permitted to retire", usually a euphemism for dismissal.

    New appointments to fill the posts were not announced.

    Last month, the government dismissed two cabinet ministers and appointed four new ministers and four deputy ministers. Those who lost their portfolios were the culture minister and the minister for social welfare and resettlement.

    As has become customary, no explanations for the shifts were announced.

    The May 15 reshuffle had been announced after the first day of the quarterly meeting of the military government, formally called the State Peace and Development Council.

    The meeting was held for the first time at the country's new administrative capital of Naypyidaw, near Pyinmana, 450km north of the old capital, Yangon.

    Several of May's cabinet appointments involved moving regional army commanders from their military posts, opening up their slots.

    Although cabinet reshuffles are generally announced in the state-run media, equally important military appointments and promotions are only reported in military circulars.

    UN Demands

    Meanwhile, the United Nations labour agency has demanded that Myanmar release and end the prosecution of everyone who has been imprisoned or targeted for co-operating with UN officials.

    Myanmar's government is headed
    by Senior General Than Shwe

    At a 178-nation conference, the UN agency concluded that Myanmar must show "tangible and verifiable" action on releasing these people by the end of July.

    The agency has accused Myanmar of using forced labour to aid the military, and build roads and other projects.

    The military government is criticised for its poor human rights record and failure to hand over power to a democratically elected government.

    Last month it extended the house detention of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi for a fourth straight year.

    Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has spent more than 10 of the last 17 years in detention, mostly under house arrest.

    Myanmar's military has ruled in some form for more than four decades. In 1990, it refused to hand over power when Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party won a landslide victory in general elections.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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