A retired Myanmar general, seen as a hardliner for close ties to the former junta and its deadly crackdown on 2007 monk-led rallies, has been nominated to be vice president, a military official said Tuesday.
Yangon chief minister Myint Swe was selected to replace another hard-line army vice president by soldiers in Myanmar’s parliament, who make up one quarter of the legislature, Brigadier General Wai Lin told reporters in the capital Naypyidaw.
“We believe that he can work more for the country,” he said. The nominee will later be approved by MPs.
The move comes amid expectations of a cabinet reshuffle that observers hope could pave the way for more moderate figures to enter the quasi-civilian government, as Myanmar’s parliament is transformed by the arrival of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her party.
Myanmar state media announced a reshuffle of six deputy ministers late Monday, hours after Suu Kyi took her seat as an elected MP for the first time, but did not say whether or not the move was part of a wider reorganization.
“I hope the new vice president will work for national reconciliation and the development of democracy,” Suu Kyi said on Tuesday before Myint Swe’s name was released.
The nomination of a new vice president follows the announcement last Wednesday that the previous incumbent Tin Aung Myint Oo, a renowned hardliner closely linked to former junta chief Than Shwe, had retired because of health reasons.
Despite also having close links to Myanmar’s former strongman, Myint Swe is seen as a marginally more moderate figure than his predecessor.
The 61–year–old, who is an MP for the army-backed ruling party in Yangon, was seen as one of the junta’s rising stars and raised eyebrows when he was passed over for a senior position in the new regime, which replaced outright military rule last year.
Made lieutenant general in 2006, Myint Swe was one of the military leaders involved in a brutal crackdown on monks during the “Saffron Revolution.”
The 2007 protests began as small rallies against the rising cost of living but escalated into huge anti-government demonstrations that was quashed by security forces with the deaths of at least 31 people.