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Burma Cabinet Change Aims Govt Imag

RANGOON, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Burma's surprise cabinet reshuffle was aimed at
better allocating ministries as the new government seeks to improve its image,
analysts said on Sunday. 

``The changes put the right men in the right places,'' one local analyst said.

Burma's new military government announced the reshuffle late on Saturday,
changing several key financial portfolios. 

The ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) shuffled eight ministers
and added one new figure to the cabinet. 

The SPDC was itself formed last month in a sudden government change, replacing
the previous ruling military body. 

Under Saturday's reshuffle, veteran Minister of National Planning and Economic
Development David Abel became Minister in the Office of the Chairman of the

Abel, a fluent English speaker and a graduate of Britain's Royal Military
Academy at Sandhurst, is one of the most prominent members of the cabinet. 

Analysts said the move represented a promotion and would give Abel more
influence on the ruling generals. 

He has been minister from the time the previous government seized power in
1988, and a vital part of Burma's push to open up its economy and woo foreign

He was replaced as Minister of National Planning and Economic Development by
Soe Tha, former minister for telecommunications, posts and telegraphs. 

Khin Maung Thein, the former energy minister, replaced veteran finance
minister, Brigadier General Win Tin, at the top finance post. 

Like Win Tin, Khin Maung Thein graduated from Yangon Engineering College and
is among the best-educated of the cabinet ministers. 

The government did not give a reason for the changes, which went into effect
on Saturday. 

All the reshuffled ministers were members of the former cabinet which was
dissolved last month when the SPDC replaced and abolished the State Law and
Order Restoration Council (SLORC). 

The top four leaders of the SLORC remained at the head of the new ruling body,
the SPDC. 

The SLORC had ruled Burma since it seized power in 1988 after crushing pro-
democracy uprisings. 

This is the third major change in the government over the past month. In
addition to the change of name, the government also abolished the advisory
group that had been created during the November government change. 

The group was made up of 14 people, most of whom were fo