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Military-bred cabinet member ‘reassigned,’ replaced

Burma’s then Deputy Minister of Home Affairs addresses Parliament in 2016.

Burma’s deputy minister for home affairs, Aung Soe, has been “reassigned to perform his original military duties” and is replaced in the cabinet by Major-General Aung Thu from the Office of the Commander-in-Chief (Army), according to two announcements released by the President’s Office on Monday.

Both men major-generals at the time of their appointments, the former joined the cabinet on Aug. 11, 2015 and was a holdover of the previous, quasi-civilian government. Aung Thu has been serving as head of Burma’s Defence Services Academy.

Under Burma’s constitution — drawn up by the former military junta and approved in a 2008 referendum widely derided as illegitimate — the commander-in-chief appoints the ministers of Home Affairs, Border Affairs, and Defence.

Leadership changes at the Union level have been relatively few since the National League for Democracy government, led by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, took power just over two years ago. Most notably, her so-called “puppet president,” Htin Kyaw, resigned in late March and was replaced by Win Myint, a former speaker of Parliament’s Lower House.

And last week Minister of Finance and Planning Kyaw Win stepped down amid rumours of a corruption probe connected to him. He is likely to be replaced by Soe Win, an octogenarian well-known in the world of finance. The president announced his nomination on Monday.

The Ministry of Home Affairs is one of Burma’s most sprawling, overseeing influential sub-entities from the police force to the General Administration Department, which the Asia Foundation think-tank described as “exceptionally important to governance in Myanmar, particularly at subnational levels, [and] also poorly understood, and indeed, rather enigmatic,” in a 2014 report.