The resignation of a top hardliner in the Burmese government marks the start of a cabinet reshuffle designed to speed up democratic and economic reforms, say members of the government.
Burmese President Thein Sein announced the resignation of Vice President Tin Aung Myint Oo, a former four-star general who worked closely with former dictator Than Shwe, on Wednesday during the first day of the new Parliament session, in what sources close to the government said will be the first of a cabinet realignment to remove or sideline cabinet hardliners from the former military government.
The reshuffle coincides with Thein Sein’s “Second Wave” of reforms in in country.
"He needs to make the cabinet more vibrant and effective and he has to remove some conservatives who are reluctant to accept his reforms," one lawmaker, who declined to be identified, told Reuters news agency on Wednesday.
Sources said two ministers could be replaced when seven ministries are merged into three portfolios: agriculture, transport and electric power, Reuters said.
The news agency said two prominent ministers may be reassigned to become more central to the reforms, with Rail Transportation Minister Aung Min – Thein Sein's top peace negotiator – to become a president's office minister and Industry Minister Soe Thein, head of the country's Investment Commission, given the National Planning and Economic Development portfolio.
Aung Min would replace Tin Naing Thein, who would become Finance Minister in place of former General Hla Tun, the source told Reuters.
Under Parliamentary procedures, the successor to Tin Aung Myint Oo will be chosen by non-elected, government-appointed armed forces MPs and the new vice president is certain to be another military man.
Burmese lawmaker Aye Maung of the ethnic minority Rakhine National Development Party told Voice of America on Wednesday that he hopes the next vice president will be a reformist, whoever he is.
“We hope that the army will nominate the kind of person who can go along with the current president’s reform strategy and can work in cooperation with the parliamentarians and also be acceptable to the people,” he said.