The long-rumored resignation of Vice President Tin Aung Myint Oo was confirmed on Wednesday during the opening of the fourth session of Burma’s Parliament. A deadline for the nomination of his replacement was set for next week.
“Vice President Thiha Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo submitted his letter of resignation on July 1, as stated in the president’s address to the Union Parliament,” Thein Nyunt, a Lower House MP from Rangoon’s Thingangyun constituency, told The Irrawaddy.
“The speakers of the Union Parliament told the relevant parliamentarians to nominate a new vice-president by July 10,” he added.
According to President Thein Sein’s written address to Parliament, which was read by Upper House Speaker Khin Aung Myint, Tin Aung Myint Oo resigned for “health reasons.”
It has been known for some time that the former general, who was regarded as a hardliner, is suffering from throat cancer. In April he traveled to Singapore to receive medical treatment, and he reportedly resigned on May 3, shortly after his return to Burma.
His replacement will be nominated by military appointees, who hold 25 percent of seats in Burma’s Parliament. Among the likely candidates for the job are Vice Commander-in-Chief Gen Soe Win, Lower House Speaker Shwe Mann and Minister of Home Affairs Gen Ko Ko.
Other possibilities are retired Lt-Gen Tin Aye, the chairman of the Union Election Commission, and Htay Oo, the secretary general of the ruling military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party.
Tin Aung Myint Oo was chosen by military appointees a year ago to serve as one of the country’s two vice presidents. Under Burma’s 2008 Constitution, a new vice president must be nominated within a week of the announcement of his predecessor’s resignation.
Most observers believe that the replacement will be more moderate and less controversial than Tin Aung Myint Oo, who was widely regarded as one of the most corrupt officials serving in the former junta.
For the past several months, there has been widespread speculation that Thein Sein plans reshuffle his cabinet during the current session of Parliament to reinvigorate the reform process that he initiated last year. A lawmaker quoted in a report by Reuters on Wednesday said that the president “has to remove some conservatives who are reluctant to accept his reforms.”
There has also been speculation that Thein Sein plans to merge several ministries, a move that would eliminate a number of high-ranking positions.
Today’s opening of Parliament was attended by 42 of 43 MPs from the opposition National League for Democracy who were elected in April by-elections. The notable exception was party leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who returned to Burma last week from a five-nation tour of Europe and requested permission to rest before attending Parliament in Naypyidaw.
However, her party reported that she will travel to her home constituency of Kawhmu, about two hours drive from Rangoon, on Thursday.
The current session of Parliament is expected to focus on drafting new media and investment laws.