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SLORC no longer exists in previous (r)

November 15, 1997

Filed at 1:21 p.m. EST

By The Associated Press

RANGOON, Burma (AP) -- Burma's four top generals consolidated their power
Saturday in the form of new ruling council, promoting several younger
leaders and pushing rivals into mainly ceremonial posts. The changes
contained no indication the military was ready to relinquish any of its
absolute authority.

A brief announcement Saturday said the 21-member State Law and Order Restoration
Council, or SLORC, which has been in power since September 1988, had been
dissolved. In its place, a 19-member group called the State Peace and
Development Council has been created.

The new council is made up of the four top generals and 15 commanders of
the various military regions of Burma. Throughout SLORC's eight-year rule,
its leaders repeatedly have insisted that its current form of military rule
was only a transitional government. Yet, the regime has never made any
further moves toward establishing a civilian government.

The reshuffling comes as the military government has recently hardened its
stance against pro-democracy leaders, particularly 1991 Nobel Peace Prize
winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

The military leaders on Saturday also announced the formation of a 14-member
Cabinet and a separate 14-member advisory board. Eleven members of SLORC's
previous Cabinet were given positions on the advisory board, but the government
announcement carried no details on the role and relative power of each body.

The four generals who remain firmly in control of the country are: Sr. Gen. Than
Shwe, the chairman of SLORC; Gen. Maung Aye, the vice-chairman; Khin Nyunt,
secretary-one and head of military intelligence; and Gen. Tin Oo,
The ruling council contains two newer faces in Burmese power circles: Gen. Win
Myint, who was given the title of secretary-three, making him the fifth
most powerful general, and Gen. Tin Hla, who heads the newly formed
Ministry of Military Affairs.

Although the junta opened Burma to foreign investment in the early 1990s, the
economy is in a sharp decline, with inflation running at about 40 percent
and the currency, the kyat, rapidly losing value. Most trained economists
have left the country rather than live under military rule.

The government released Suu Kyi from six years of house arrest in 1995, but
it has periodically clamped down on her activities -- especially in the
last few weeks. On Thursday, Suu Kyi's car was surrounded by riot police
for 11 hours, and she was not allowed to meet party members.

Suu Kyi and top leaders of her political party could not be reached for
comment as the government has cut their phone lines. The SLORC succeeded an
earlier military regime in 1988, suppressing pro-democracy demonstrations
by killing thousands of protesters. Suu Kyi, daughter of independence hero
Aung San, rose to head the democracy movement.

In 1990, her party won a landslide victory in national elections, but SLORC
ignored the result and jailed, harassed and drove into exile many of the
winning candidates.

The London-based human rights group Amnesty International estimated last month
that the military government keeps more than 1,000 political opponents in
prison, many from Suu Kyi's party.