Burma former general quits new parliament

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File image of Burma's new parliament in Naypyidaw
Image caption,
Burma's new parliament has been sitting in the capital Naypyidaw for the past two weeks

One of the leaders of Burma's former military hierarchy has resigned from the new parliament, two weeks into its first session.

Tin Aye - an ally of outgoing military ruler Than Shwe - left the army to stand for election as Burma began what it calls a transition to democracy.

No reason has yet been given for Tin Aye's departure from parliament.

Analysts say it is an early indication the new structure envisaged by Burma's rulers may not be working to plan.

Tin Aye was number six in Burma's outgoing military hierarchy, a former chief of defence procurement and a protege of Than Shwe.

His resignation, which was read out in parliament in Naypyidaw, is reported to have surprised MPs.

He had been tipped to become defence minister but did not get the job.

It is only two weeks since parliament convened, ending almost half a century of absolute military rule.

Tin Aye had left the army to stand as a civilian for the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party, which won an overwhelming majority in the November election.

There are suggestions that the resignation is a sign of growing dissatisfaction with the new power-sharing arrangement among senior military figures.

The election - Burma's first in 20 years - was widely condemned as a sham.

Than Shwe, the general who has ruled Burma since 1992, did not run for the president and it remains unclear what role he will play in the future.

Analysts say the 77-year-old is unlikely to relinquish all power and is expected to either remain as head of the powerful military or take a significant behind-the-scenes political position.

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