Yangon - Myanmar's ruling military has reshuffled six of its 12 regional commanders in the first major army shake-up since Prime Minister Khin Nyunt was ousted last October. Regional commanders traditionally exercise great power in the country, often running their regions like private fiefdoms.
Sources close to the Ministry of Defence said the changes took place on May 26, shortly after the quarterly meeting of the area commands. Under the reshuffle:
- The commander of the south-west military region, Major-General Soe Naing, switched posts with Brigadier-General Thura Myint Maung in the south-east.
- Brig-Gen Khin Zaw, charged with overseeing the area bordering Thailand, was moved to the central command based in Mandalay.
- The commander of the region bordering Bangladesh, Brig-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, was sent to the Thai frontier.
- Brig-Gen Ye Myint, the central area commander, will serve in the eastern command based in the Shan State capital of Taunggyi.
- Brig-Gen Khin Maung Myint will be posted to the Bangladesh border.
The ruling junta has carried out sweeping purges and personnel shifts since Khin Nyunt, who also headed the country's powerful military intelligence apparatus, was removed from power last October. He was accused of insubordination and involvement in a major corruption scandal.
Thirty-eight military intelligence officers close to the ousted leader, who is being held under house arrest, were given long prison terms last month. More than half a dozen senior ambassadors have been recalled from their posts.
The rotation of the regional commanders was the first such major military reshuffle since Khin Nyunt's exit. Analysts say the reshuffles will probably not have a direct impact on the country's political course which is firmly steered by a military council, which continues to suppress pro-democracy groups and keep Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest. Ms Suu Kyi marked her second year in detention on May 30.
"Regional military commanders have tremendous power, so I think they have been shuffled around because the SPDC (the ruling State Peace and Development Council) did not want them to be in the same place for too long," one source close to the military told AFP news agency.
* Myanmar junta reshuffles its regional commanders (The Nation, May 28)
* Maynmar reshuffles postings of 6 top generals (The Straits Times, May 30)