Military intelligence head promoted to joint chief of staff

Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing promoted his intelligence chief in a reshuffle of senior officers on August 26, Reuters newsagency reported.

Lieutenant-General Mya Tun Oo was promoted to joint chief of staff of the army, navy and air force, the de-facto third most senior position in the Tatmadaw and a post seen as a stepping stone to becoming army chief, the report said.

The officers promoted in the reshuffle were leading efforts to present the military as a responsible partner in the democratic transition, Reuters said.

It quoted Western defence attaches as saying Mya Tun Oo was an astute military operator with sound awareness of international relations and regional politics, capable of navigating a difficult political transition.

He astonished the public in July when he told a news conference that seven soldiers would face a military court over the deaths of five men near Mong Yaw village in Shan State’s Lashio Township the previous month.

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Reuters said at the time that both the news conference and an invitation issued by Mya Tun Oo for Mong Yaw residents to attend the court martial were unprecedented.

Min Aung Hlaing also appointed eight other officers to new posts, including several regional commanders.

The reshuffle comes after Min Aung Hlaing, who was born in 1956, said in May that he wanted to remain in the Tatmadaw’s top job until 2020. Mya Tun Oo told journalists in June that the Defence Services Act had been amended to set the retirement age of the commander-in-chief and his deputy at 65, five years later than the mandatory retirement age for civil servants.

The decision by Min Aung Hlaing to stay on as Tatmadaw chief appeared to be aimed at consolidating his power base as he forges a “delicate” relationship with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Reuters said.

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