Burmese military junta to continue to rule by proxy after ex- army Gen elected President

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Rangoon, Feb 5 (ANI): Burma's parliament has elected the country's former Army General Thein Sein as the President, raising fears among political observers that the military establishment that has been running the country for almost a half-century is in no mood to loosen its grip on power.

Sein, the former Prime Minister, has a record of loyalty to Senior General Than Shwe, who has ruled Burma since 1992. His appointment as a President is an indication that immediate changes under the new government are unlikely, The Washington post reports.

The parliament, formed as a result of November's elections after being boycotted by some opposition parties, met on Monday for the first time in more than two decades. But some critics are of the opinion that the senior General wants to continue his rule through the new power structure.

"He's Than Shwe's puppet. They have changed the name, but it is the same old wine in new bottles," the paper quoted Khin Omar, the head of the Network for Democracy and Development and a longtime critic of the government, as saying.

Some advocates, however, insist that the underlying power structure has changed.

"This is the safest possible transition for Than Shwe, but that doesn't mean nothing will change," said Richard Horsey, an analyst who has worked for the United Nations in Burma.

Burma's new constitution gives a powerful executive role to the presidency. One of Thein Sein's first jobs will be to appoint the commander in chief of the armed forces, the paper said.

Sein will be eighth President of Burma in the post-independence era. His predecessors were Sao Shwe Thaike, Dr. Ba Oo, Man Win Maung, Ne Win, San Yu, Sein Lwin and Dr. Maung Maung. (ANI)

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