Burma’s Junta Disguised as Civilian Government
30 March 2011: Former Prime Minister Thein Sein, leader of junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), was sworn in as the new president of Burma this morning, outwardly ending the military’s decades-long rule.
In an ostentatious inaugural session of a new parliament, the SPDC led by Senior General Than Shwe officially handed power to a ‘symbolic’ civilian government, formed with a party headed by ex-military generals.
However, the new government, with Thein Sein as the 8th President of Burma, has been widely criticised as a continuation of the old system in a new guise.
Mark Farmaner, Director at Burma Campaign UK, said: “What we are seeing in Burma today is a rebranding, not reform. It’s groundhog day for the people of Burma, dictatorship is alive and well, and large parts of the international community seem to have been fooled by its shiny new branding.”
The transfer of power is just the latest in a series of rebrandings since the establishment of the first dictatorship in Burma in 1962, according to Burma Campaign UK.
The 65-year-old President, Thein Sein was appointed as Prime Minister before resigning to run in the ‘controversial’ 2010 elections for the military-backed party that was claimed to have won 80 percent of the vote in Burma, a country with more than 2,000 political prisoners still detained in jails.
Meanwhile, earthquake-hit victims in eastern Shan State have been left struggling as Burma’s army tightens restrictions, blocking access to the worst affected areas in attempts to stave off flows of information about the casualties, according to reports.
Van Biak Thang