Burma on Wednesday appointed a navy chief who has a reputation as a political moderate to be one of the country’s two vice presidents, replacing a hardliner who resigned for health reasons.
In a move seen as part of a leadership reshuffle making way for more reformist leaders, Admiral Nyan Tun, 58, takes over from Tin Aung Myint Oo, considered a conservative hardliner.
Nyan Tun was selected by military members of parliament, who make up a quarter of the legislature and have the right to choose a vice president.
Speaker of the Upper House Khin Aung Myint announced the appointment at a joint session of both houses of parliament.
In taking his oath of office, Nyan Tun pledged to safeguard the union and its sovereignty and the unity of all ethnic nationalities..
His predecessor, a former top general and military advisor to ex-junta leader Than Shwe, submitted his resignation after being diagnosed with cancer in May.
But state media initially stifled reports of Tin Aung Myint Oo’s resignation and officials kept mum about his replacement, fanning rumors of a power struggle between regime moderates and conservatives.
The post is seen as largely symbolic, but the vice president can act as mediator between the country’s opposition and President Thein Sein’s administration, which has embarked on a series of progressive political reforms since taking power in March last year.
Before nominating Nyan Tun, military members of parliament first picked Rangoon Division Prime Minister Myint Swe, a retired general who served as a staff officer under Than Shwe.
Myint Swe’s nomination was later rejected, with government officials saying that his son-in-law had received foreign citizenship in Australia, which could disqualify him from a senior post under Burmese law.
Under the constitution, Nyan Tun must resign his military position to take up the new post.
As one of two equal vice presidents, he joins Sai Mauk Kham, an ethnic Shan.
Navy General Thura Thet Swe has been appointed to replace Nyan Tun’s vacant admiral post.
Reported by RFA’s Burmese service. Translated by Win Naing. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.