Myanmar regime set to transfer power

Prime Minister Thein Sein, who shed his army uniform to contest controversial elections last year, was named in February for the top job in the new parliament, where the military retains a stranglehold on power.

"The president will be sworn in tomorrow. If they cannot hold it tomorrow, it will be the day after tomorrow," an official in Myanmar told AFP, on condition of anonymity.
"After he is sworn in, the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) will hand over power to the new government."

The SPDC, previously known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), seized power in 1988, but the country has been under military rule since 1962.
"The SPDC will be automatically dissolved after they hand over power to the new government," added another official, saying this transfer was likely to be on Friday.

Senior General Than Shwe, who has ruled with an iron fist since 1992, remains commander-in-chief of the army. Although he has not taken the top political role, many analysts believe he will attempt to retain some sort of control behind the scenes.

His key ally Thein Sein had been tipped for the presidential post even before the vote, supporting fears that the regime has engineered the political process to hide military power behind a civilian facade.

The 65-year-old became a civilian last year to contest the November election as head of the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which claimed an overwhelming majority in the poll.

Sources inside Myanmar say Than Shwe "summoned both outgoing and incoming ministers on Saturday, telling them to obey the leadership of the party which is going to take the main leading role", said US-based analyst Win Min.

"He also urged them to try their best not to split the party. It's interesting that he was worried about such split," added Win Min, also a pro-democracy activist.

The formation of a national assembly in Naypyidaw, convened for the first time at the end of January, takes the country towards the final stage of the junta's so-called "roadmap" to a "disciplined democracy".

A quarter of the parliamentary seats were kept aside for the military even before the country's first poll in 20 years, which was marred by the absence of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and claims of cheating and intimidation.

USDP lawmakers bagged 388 of the national legislature's 493 elected seats.

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