Myanmar poised for cabinet shake-up, MPs say
By Aung Hla Tun and Jason Szep
NAYPYITAW (Reuters) - Myanmar President Thein Sein plans to reshuffle his cabinet and appoint a new vice-president to reduce the influence of anti-reform ministers and accelerate changes in the former pariah state, several lawmakers said.
The imminent reshuffle could sideline some hardliners by reducing their responsibilities in the 37-member cabinet or give them new roles, said the lawmakers.
"He needs to make the cabinet more vibrant and effective and he has to remove some conservatives who are reluctant to accept his reforms," said one lawmaker, who declined to be identified.
The first to go was first Vice-President Tin Aung Myint Oo, a former four-star general considered a leader of hardline remnants of the military junta that ruled for half a century and was close to its paramount leader, former dictator Than Shwe.
The joint upper and lower houses on Wednesday endorsed Tin Aung Myint Oo's resignation and house speaker Khin Aung Myint said the military delegates in both chambers would have until July 10 to choose his successor.
He was one of two vice-presidents chosen by lawmakers and submitted his resignation on May 3. Thein Sein did not accept it and instead gave him leave for two months, say lawmakers and several government officials. That has stoked speculation about his role, including rumors of his deteriorating health.
The pace of change in Myanmar, already dramatic, looks set to accelerate after Thein Sein, a former general, announced on June 19 a second wave of reforms that aim to triple the size of the economy in five years and modernize a backward state where a third of the population live below the poverty line.
Sources with knowledge of the reshuffle discussions expect two ministers to be axed when seven ministries are merged into three portfolios: agriculture, transport and electric power. Continued...