March 2011

Myanmar’s attempt to rebrand itself with a nominally civilian government was met with scepticism at home and abroad on Thursday, with critics fearing army power has merely moved into the shadows. (more…)

Bangkok — A nominally civilian government took office in Myanmar on Wednesday but the change was mostly one of political structure as the military, which has ruled for a half-century, maintained its grip on power. (more…)

Chiang Mai – Khun Htun Oo, a Shan leder and a political prisoner who was sentenced to 93 years, has received the first Nationalities Hero prize given by the United Nationalities Alliance (UNA), a group representing several ethnic nationalities in Burma. (more…)

A number of gun battles have recently broken out between the KNU and the combined Burmese Army and Border Guard Force (BGF) in Pai Kyon Township in Karen State. According to KNU news sources, a number of Burmese Army and BGF soldiers have been killed. (more…)

Flushed with victory over the Kokang ceasefire group, led by Peng Jiasheng, after a 3 day fighting 19 months ago, the Burma Army had descended on another former ceasefire group the Shan State Army (SSA) North (until a year ago the First Brigade of the SSA North) on 13 March with 19 battalions equipped with heavy weapons. (more…)

Burmese migrants are among nearly one million people thought to have been hit by heavy floods in southern Thailand which have so far claimed 15 lives. (more…)

MAE SOT—Exports of gasoline from Thailand to Burma through the Mae Sot-Myawaddy crossing have reportedly doubled in recent days, as the petrol price soars in Burma. (more…)

Burma’s new commerce minister has said that boosting trade will be made a priority of the new government as it looks to stem the tide of economic stagnation that has made it one of the world’s poorest countries. (more…)

Rangoon– A total of 157 state-owned properties in Rangoon were put up for auction in March.  Although details of the sale are sketchy, it follows the pattern of an ongoing privatization programme of government-owned property being carried out in the wake of the military junta moving the capital of Burma from Rangoon to Naypyidaw in 2005. (more…)

Beijing – China has praised Burma’s new government for promoting democracy.  Beijing denounced other countries for criticizing its close neighbor’s new administration, which was sworn in this week.  (more…)

Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar Li Junhua said on Thursday that the forthcoming official and friendly visit to Myanmar of Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, is of significant importance to the Sino-Myanmar neighborly and friendly relations and economic and trade cooperation. (more…)

Tokyo, March 31 Kyodo – Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto on Thursday urged the new government of Myanmar under President Thein Sein to create a democratic nation through further efforts to achieve reconciliation among Myanmar’s citizens. (more…)

The United Nations has urged that the new government in Burma should be “more than a change in name, and a genuine move away from military rule,” according to a statement from the UN secretary-general’s office on Wednesday. (more…)

Berlin German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday offered support for democratic change in Myanmar, during a telephone conversation with the country’s opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi, according to a statement from the government in Berlin. (more…)

Washington – The United States said Wednesday it remains deeply concerned by the “oppressive political environment” in Myanmar even with the disbanding of a military junta. (more…)

The military in Myanmar may or may not be ready for meaningful and inclusive dialogue with the opposition as it handed over power yesterday to the government elected last November. If it were so inclined, it could simply respond to the offer that pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi made last weekend for talks to clear up ‘misunderstandings’. Even after the new, nominally civilian government takes office, the military – or Tatmadaw – will continue to wield dominant, if not ultimate, power. It is a reality that Ms Suu Kyi has chosen not to ignore. At the same time that the Tatmadaw marked Armed Forces Day on Sunday, her National League for Democracy (NLD) also celebrated the resistance that her father, General Aung San, led against the Japanese 66 years ago. (more…)

If you read The New Light of Myanmar today hoping to find signs of change in Burma, you can be forgiven for feeling a bit despondent. Ex-Gen Thein Sein’s inaugural speech as the country’s newly minted president gave no indication that his government—sworn in just yesterday—has any intention of breaking with the policies of the past two decades. (more…)

Nay Pyi Taw —President U Thein Sein addressed the first regular session of Pyidaungsu Hluttaw today.

The following is the translation of his speech.

Burma has officially dissolved its military government and sworn in a hybrid administration in what many say is simply a civilian facade to an otherwise little-changed military regime. Others, though, say it’s a small step in a democratic direction. The new parliament follows elections in November that were boycotted by the main opposition party led by Aung San Suu Kyi. So what does it mean for Burma General Than Shwe?

New York – The Secretary-General has taken note of the official announcement in Naypyitaw of the transfer of power from the State Peace and Development Council to the new Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. (more…)

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