– VOA News
Burma’s defense minister and other top generals are reported to have resigned their posts, with some of them set to run for election as civilians in the nation’s first political contest in 20 years. News agencies quote unidentified sources close to the ruling junta as saying General Thura Shwe Mann, the third ranking Burmese military leader, has retired as defense military to join the Union Solidarity and Development Party. The party is the political wing of the military regime, which is favored to win the most seats in the November 7 parliamentary election.
Sources have told the German press agency ( Deutsche Presse Agentur) and the exile- run Democratic Voice of Burma that Thura Shwe Mann is likely to become president of Burma after the election.
Pro-democracy critics of the Burmese regime say the election is a sham aimed at putting a civilian mask on the junta that controls the country.
The junta’s fourth ranking general, Tin Aung Myint Oo, also resigned and is expected to be a candidate. He was one of a dozen generals who retired in the second reshuffling of military leaders this year. Twenty seven senior officers retired in April.
Pro- democracy activists accuse the government of setting rules aimed at ensuring there will be no repeat of the 1990 election, which was won in a landslide by the opposition National League for Democracy. Party leader Aung San Suu Kyi was never allowed to take power by the junta, which has controlled Burma since 1962.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest until at least after the election, has urged her supporters to monitor the election and report irregularities. She has suggested that pro-democracy forces not vote in the election.